The Caution Tape Effect

You probably love your church lobby after Sunday services. It’s a beehive of activity – conversations and connections, sharing stories and burdens and prayers, new people being greeted, etc.

Now imagine if you took caution tape and blocked off your lobby, so that after church people could not engage with each other, but had to edit the building without talking to anyone.

This is what happens when your church doesn’t have a presence on social media. Just like your people wouldn’t feel as good about church if they couldn’t chat in the lobby on Sunday, there are people who feel less connected when you aren’t engaging them on social media during the week.

The 5 Components of a Successful Brand

Admit it: you love branding. I have yet to meet a passionate, engaged-with-their-job marketing or communications person who isn’t All About The Brand. I am, too! I’ve designed logos, helped a few organizations create new brands for themselves, and worked with and for organizations as they figure out what to do to improve the brand they have. I love that kind of work.

However, too many organizations limit their view of their brand to visual components like a logo or color/font combination. And some say “brand” when they really mean “culture” or “mission.”

Either way, there’s a lot more to a brand than a newly designed logo or visual system. Plenty of organizations with not-so-trendy logos win at branding all day long. And they do it by remembering the 5 components that make their brand successful:

  1. Purpose over promise. You need to have a clear, tangible, repeatable expression of the reason you exist. This may or may not be your mission statement; it could be a tagline. For example, where I work our mission statement is discovering life with God for the good of the world. But we’ve been using a simple tagline lately: find your go. (Actually, we’ve been using the hashtag #findyourgo, but it’s definitely a tagline too.) If anyone connected to your organization – whether it’s attendees, employees, donors, or customers – can’t reiterate the purpose for why you exist, your brand won’t help you grow.
  2. Consistency of narrative and design. Consistency leads to familiarity, and familiarity is good! It doesn’t lead to boredom; it leads to front-of-mind presence, and positive associations. Attach it to everything you do! Creativity should be applied in designing your brand, not in using it. Don’t let brand variations creep into your marketing. Stay consistent visually, costly reinforce your main Big Idea through the stories you tell, the things you celebrate, and the things you ask your people to do.
  3. Emotion that inspires loyalty. Psychologists have observed a strong correlation between emotion and decision making. People who experience damage to the part of the brain that affects emotion also experience a profound difficulty with making even simple decisions, like what to eat for breakfast. Emotion is necessary to help people become intentional about connecting with your brand, about choosing it over the other options that are in front of them. Nike has always been great at this.
  4. Employee engagement is an incredible barometer of a brand’s strength. If your employees and partners aren’t excited about your brand, how likely is it that your brand will resonate with your constituents? If your staff wear your t-shirts by choice, you’re on the right track. Keep going.
  5. Responsiveness matters today more than ever. Be human, not an institution. Take advantage of every opportunity for conversation you get. Lean into social media the way a 13-year old leans into Instagram. Don’t just talk; listen.

There are certainly plenty of other ways to help strengthen your brand. These are just some that I’ve learned along the way, and from great resources like Marketo and HubSpot.

My main point here is: don’t limit your brand work to a visual branding project. We’re all in the branding business, all the time.

The Creative Brief, Part Two: a Simple Template

[This is the second post I’ve written on the creative brief; to read the first, click here.]

A good creative brief is a simple framework for making decisions on everything creative: key words/phrases, promo copy, visual designs, drama or video storylines… it’s your project guide, helping your team stay on course as you create and implement.

Ours starts with four questions:

  1. Challenge. What’s the challenge people are facing that we’re trying to help them with? What problem are we trying to solve?
  2. Audience. Who are we targeting, primarily? If we had to pick one person that our message best resonates with, who is that? Describe them in detail. This isn’t about a demographic profile, but rather their psychographic profile.
  3. Response.  How are we hoping people will respond, in thoughts/words/actions? What do we want them to do differently, as a result of this project?
  4. Tone. What’s the tone, the vibe, the feel you’re hoping to create? Is it edgy, family-friendly, brooding, irreverent?

There are many templates for creative briefs that are more in-depth, more complicated and detailed than this. Some of those may be better suited for your needs.

But if you don’t currently use a brief in your creative process, start with this one. It can make a huge difference in how effectively your team operates.

Thoughts on “Belong Before Believe”

People belong to a group based on its actions, more than its words. They choose to belong to a group when that group does things that they want to get on board with.

Every group that people belong to outside of church does stuff. Clubs, sports leagues, civic organizations… people join them to do, not to be.

If your church is putting “belong before believe” language in their marketing, you’re missing out on the wonderful opportunity that clubs and organizations are capitalizing on. Because in doing that, you’ve just created “us” and “them.”

In clubs and other organizations, there’s only “us.” And the pitch to join in is always built around the action. If you join in, you belong.

If you want to make people feel more interested in participating in the life of your church – regardless of how much of your theology they believe – just start doing things that make people want to join in, and tell everyone that they’re welcome to join in with you.

If what you’re doing is attractive, then people will join you.

Tourists or Pilgrims 

Pilgrims are seeking a purpose. Tourists are seeking an experience. A tourist might love the experience, rave over it, document it, relive it. But they aren’t committed to it.

Tourists share experiences but they don’t construct them. They’re in it temporarily, not for the long haul. Tourists are consumers at heart.

Pilgrims are on a mission. They have a goal, a purpose of becoming a different person. Pilgrims make things happen. They’re in it for the long haul.

Winning brands treat their audiences like pilgrims, not tourists.

Meet Winston

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This is Winston. He is a French Bulldog who belongs to my wife’s cousin. He’s also our houseguest for the next 6 days. It’s hard to get a picture of Winston, because he doesn’t really sit still. Ever.

Winston is what you would call an active dog. Being 1 year old, this is normal. It’s just that our dog Gus, at age 1, acted more like a piece of furniture than a dog. He’s almost three now, and we manage to keep him nicely out of shape. Gus is not an active dog.

Winston is not neutered. As any dog person knows, young, un-neutered male dogs do one thing more than anything else; they hump. They’ll hump other dogs, people’s legs, furniture, even a kids’ toy, if it’s big enough. It’s not pretty.

Gus was neutered as early as the vet would let us, so he’s never really been one to “assume the dominant position” on other dogs, or anything else, for that matter.  This whole humping thing is new to us. And while Gus has been around plenty off other dogs before, he has probably never been around a humper like Winston.

Luckily, Winston is much smaller than Gus, so it doesn’t get to him much. The only time it it’s a major problem is when Gus lies down, because that allows Winston to hop right up on Gus’s head. Not surprisingly, Gus finds this annoying. The kids find it pretty funny though, since they are young and don’t really understand why Winston keeps trying to wrestle with Gus’s head. They think Winston just wants to go for a ride on Gus’ shoulders or something, or maybe he wants Gus to wear him like a hat. A “doggie hat,” as the kids called it.

When Winston isn’t playing doggie hat with Gus, he is doing the other thing he does a lot: barking.

Gus isn’t much of a barker. He will bark when someone comes to the door, or if a car pulls in the driveway. Winston barks at the rotation of the earth. He also likes to direct his barking at the kids, which slightly freaks them out. It’s as if he’s trying to warn them, sternly, that they are in danger from the earth’s rotation, and if they don’t comply with his warning to leave the earth, he’ll have to nip them. This isn’t endearing.

Winston is small, and resembles one of our favorite Disney characters, Stitch. You would think that would endear Winston to the girls, but at this point they think he’s more like the six-armed-alien-troublemaker Stitch than the lovable-Elvis-impersonating Stitch.

If there was a “just pooped a couple times in the kitchen” Stitch, Winston would really resemble him.

Winston has been at our house for 12 hours.

 

Update, post-Winston: Winston was at our house for 5 days. By the third day, he had settled down quite a bit, and become a lot easier to manage. While we weren’t exactly sad to see him go, the kids added him to our “…and God bless…” bedtime prayers.