Marketing Isn't a Bad Word If You Think About It the Right Way

Some of you may have the same reaction to marketing and branding as David Penuel, the Director of Junior High Ministry at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, once had. In a recent Collide Magazine article he wrote:

“When someone starts talking about marketing and branding in ministry, I tend to shut down. I did not major in advertising. I am not a graphic designer. I don’t read Seth Godin’s blog (gasp). Aren’t concepts like marketing and branding “slick” and “corporate” anyways? What does branding have to do with church? “

But Penuel says his attitude about marketing changed once he let down some of his defenses.

"In a previous article in COLLIDE, Phil Cooke struck me when he said, 'In a media-driven culture, perception is just as important as reality.'

Consider this: Every single thing we do says something about who we are. The stones or bricks you use on your building, the textures and colors on the floors and walls, the comfort of the furniture, the staging, the music, the graphics, the bulletins, the lighting, the website, the business cards, the registration forms, the height of the receptionist’s desk, the layout of your offices, the dress code for your staff—everything tells a story about who you are, what you are about.

We need to know how to think about branding because we have a message worth conveying, and we can’t afford to let it get lost or confused. Cooke went on to say ‘The essential definition of branding is simply the story that surrounds a product, a person, or an organization. In other words, what do people think of when they think of you?' We need to think about branding because we are the stewards of God’s story of love filled with themes of redemption, risk, sacrifice, hope, comfort, and peace. Are these the things people think of when they think of your church? They should be. Just because you aren’t a former advertising executive doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about branding."

Nicely said David. I hope none of us are into church marketing for the slick, corporate reasons where a fancy brochure is the magic potion that will turn everything around and help our church thrive. But because we have the duty to reach people with God’s story, we need to be incredibly aware of how we’re representing Him.

(Surprised woman illustration courtesy of Shutterstock.)

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