To be effective, communication must be approached as a broad, multi-faceted spectrum
The church vision is clear; the church leadership and staff is in place; ministerial and operational systems are developed and running. The church is functional and taking shape. With all the given tasks to check off, it can be easy for anyone within a moving organization to get tunnel-vision, and not think about creating a meaningful brand experience.
When it comes to the mission that God has placed on the heart of the senior pastor and the community, are churches being mindful of their “brand experience” and intentionally living it out? To implement a meaningful brand experience requires the entire team to embody the heart, mission, values, personality and culture of the church. Staff must be given the liberty to take leadership-covered risks in which they can creatively think and become a spot-on expression of the church’s heart.
The brand experience is every touchpoint an individual would encounter related to the church. Each touchpoint should effectively bridge the church’s vision, goals, theology and community demographics (left-brain stuff) with the heart, personality, creativity and culture of the church (right-brain stuff). When done strategically and consistently, the outcome is a living, breathing, dynamic relationship that every person develops with the church.
It’s easy to get comfortable with traditional means of communication. However, these methods aren’t ideal because they cease to function right after they’ve been implemented—like a machine programmed to perform a given task, which shuts off after the task is complete.
An authentic brand experience won’t ever take place if viewed as a one-way street. It has to be dynamic and continually growing with an integrated marketing approach applied to every function and identity of the church. In order for a sender to develop meaning with a receiver, the sender should keep the following guidelines continually in motion:
Observe and listen. Be listening to God. Always keep up with the local culture, social and economic trends, technological changes. Listen to the conversations members are having—their needs, concerns, joys, praises, thoughts, excitement, everything. Ask yourself if the environment you’re sustaining meets the felt needs of your members, or whether there is a gap.
Collaborate with the right talent. There are lots of talented people out there, but it’s important that you partner with the right talent that jives with the vision and personality of your church culture. Connect with the right people who will ask the right questions for your church to help you solve the right problems. This will help avoid frustration and wasted time/energy. If you don’t know where to find the right people, then start by researching and asking the smarties around you.
Strategize, plan and create measurables. Based on research and collaborative analysis, develop a strategy with clear measurable goals that align with the vision of the church. Note that the strategy should reinforce the values, be relevant with the culture and be memorable for the people.
Implement touchpoint experiences and adjust appropriately. You can have great ideas and the perfect strategy, but with bad execution it won’t create meaningful experiences. For instance, make sure your new talent is introduced into the ministry setting in the right way and time so that everyone is blessed.
Repeat and reiterate. Start over again, adjusting accordingly, and be sure to maintain the meaningful relationship that the audience develops with the church brand.
Meaningful experiences lead to strong loyalty toward your church. So take the risk: Integrate this approach not just as a “communications plan,” but also into every aspect of your identity and culture. If well executed and well received, these tips can work to create a meaningful and memorable experience with each person.
Jena Andres is a brand strategist and founder of Scratch Agency in Sherman Oaks, Calif. For more information, check out thescratchagency.com.