When it comes to logos, branding, and name recognition, it seems the world understands why it’s so important for their favorite pair of shoes or beverage to have these things, but not why their church home should.
If I gave you twenty logos, could you name them all or maybe just a few? Either way, you are more than likely to know one. Here, try these:
Did you get them all? When you saw them, how did they make you feel? Did a happy memory come to you? Or maybe you don’t like that brand. Or maybe you couldn’t care less. Either way, it sparked something in your mind.
That, THAT feeling right there is why we MUST take the time to invest in the logos and the branding of our church home. It is another way we can convey who we are and what we believe and help define our identity to the world. How boring would it be if you walked down the candy aisle and everything was wrapped in red paper with black text? That doesn’t entice me to buy a candy bar. No, the one that entices me has the wrapper with the most colors and the bigger-than-life picture of the candy bar. That is the one I am going to pick!
Does that make sense? When we just put a cross on the front of our building or website, it tells who we BELIEVE IN, but it doesn’t tell anything about the people inside. If we all decided to use the same cross, how would someone passing by know which building to walk into? I am not going to buy a caramel-filled candy bar because I don’t like caramel. So why would I take my family to a church if, from the outside, I couldn’t tell what we would be getting on the inside?
When I first became a member at Holy Trinity and our senior pastor talked about the new sanctuary, his only request was that people look up when they walk in. That stuck with me and THAT was what I wanted to capture in our logo, along with our timeless traditions and the love this big church family shares. Those were our little somethings that made Holy Trinity special. I wanted people to feel the sense of looking up and knowing that our Lord is with them wherever they go, and so is the love of this amazing church in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Several years ago, Holy Trinity had a logo made. They had a member’s son put something together, and yes, it was unique to Holy Trinity. But as our congregation grew over the years, we realized we needed a new logo. A logo that would convey to our community what they would get when they opened the wrapper.
I’m not going to lie—it took a lot of time, we went through a lot of revisions, it was an investment, and there was a transition period. But now, that little icon with our name beside it has a story. A story that warms people’s hearts when they see it, that reminds members no matter where they are to look up and know they are part of a family bigger than they ever imagined!
Recently, our assistant pastor was in my office getting ready to do a live video on Facebook, and he quickly typed “Holy Trinity Lutheran Church” into the search bar.
He said, “Stacy, did you know there is another church using our logo?”
At first I didn’t want to believe him. My heart sank. I knew not only the time it took us to decide on our logo, but also the time I had put into it and continue to put into making our logo recognizable to the community. I looked, and sure enough. A church in Texas had simply put our logo in Photoshop, changed the colors, and slapped it on their Facebook page and their website. This church may have had the same name, but it did not have the same doctrine. I called them and explained that our logo wasn’t just any ol’ cross, it is the cross at the front of our sanctuary. While on the phone, they said, “Worst case scenario, people will think we are a satellite church.” I almost fell out of my chair! No, NO, I did not want people to think that at all. What they stood for and what we stood for were not entirely the same. That is like saying a Hershey’s chocolate bar is the same as a Twix. Clearly it isn’t! Long story short, after several phone calls they finally changed it.
Through these phone calls, I realized they felt they had done nothing wrong. They liked our logo. Their church name was the same, so hey let’s use it. I also realized I needed to do more to protect it.
I began to research how to copyright our logo and what that process would entail. We are still at the beginning stages of this and it is going to be a financial investment, but as a church we feel it is worth it to protect our unique identity that our logo conveys.
But I think protecting your logo and brand goes deeper. Many times the worst offenders are the people right in your own building. They try to squeeze it into the tiniest places or S-T-R-E-T-C-H it to take up space. I even run into cases where I cringe at something that has been printed and handed out already or that has been hung on a wall. After investing all that time and money into your logo, you don’t want it to be dismembered!
Here are some things to help with this:
- Have a style guide and make sure everyone on staff has a copy.
- Hold on tight to your logo design files. Make individuals have to ask you for it, so you can then ask where it will be used and remind them of the guidelines.
- Educate your staff and leadership on why the guidelines are important. (Even if it is only a five-minute conversation.)
The reason to be a stickler on how your logo is used goes back to the beginning of this post. When someone sees a logo stretched or misused, it undoes all the work you did to make sure your logo has meaning and is more than just an icon with your organization’s name.
Your Church’s Logo
Is your church trying to find its brand in a world full of churches? Take a moment to think about it before throwing something together or just trying to copy someone else’s. Although it is very flattering to be copied, it’s not ok. Especially when it comes to a logo. Ask yourself or the leadership team what makes your church home so special. Why do you come every Sunday? Yes, it is to worship our triune God, but there is more. The fellowship, the love, the warmth you feel when you walk in, the traditions, all those little somethings or lots of little somethings! And those somethings are what need to be poured into your logo. A logo that not only goes on the outside of the building, but also gives people those same feelings when they see it on a car’s bumper or back window.
Once you have decided on those somethings that make your church unique, find a good graphic designer. Find someone who can convey to the world, through a simple logo, that love you have in your heart for your church. Establish guidelines in a branding style guide; don’t let all your work go to the wayside.
There are several great posts on this blog that go into more detail about how to design a logo, determine your church’s brand, and even set a house style. I encourage you to read those posts and start the process now instead of later.
The logos and trademarks used in this blog are the logos and trademarks of their respective owners.