Tuesday, August 15, 2006


One of the coolest things about starting something from scratch is the ability to develop an identity for the entity. This involves the name and logo and materials, but is so much broader than that. I really enjoy the way Marty Neumeier describes it in, "The Brand Gap."

"If you strech the concept of tribe just a little, you can see that a brand creates a kind of tribe. Depending on your Unique Buying State, you can join any number of tribes on any number of days and feel part of something bigger than yourself. You can belong to the Callaway tribe when you play golf, the VW tribe when you drive to work, and the Williams-Sonoma tribe when you cook a meal. You're part of a select clan (or so you feel) when you buy products from these clearly differentiated companies."

I think a church reaches this point when it has clearly differentiated itself from other Sunday options. So, two people discussing their church might be heard to say, "Are you going to North Point on Sunday?" as opposed to "Are you going to church Sunday?" In other words, the product is so different from the typical product in the category that it becomes a category in and of itself.

People might say, "Can I borrow your iPod?" or "Let's grab some Starbucks," which are functionally the same as saying "mp3 player" or "coffee" but from the perspective of tribe are very different.

So, how does a new church effectively differentiate itself from other Sunday options? Post your comments!


Anonymous Russ said...

Hello, JAX fellowship. Just wanted to post a comment to maybe help break the ice. My family and I are good friends with the Barretts and we wish them and each of you the very best as you follow God's leading to assemble your selves.

Regarding your question of Brand...How does a new church differentiate itself from the other Sunday options?

First off, I like your question because it clearly articulates that there are other options -- Work, don't work. Right. Wrong. Good. Bad. Sin. Obedience. And on and on an on.

The cool thing is God made us that way....free win agents and all.
So there's the free will to choose. Choose an activity, choose a church, choose a brand.

I'd suggest any new church choose what Jesus suggested.

In John 13 Jesus says: 34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Notice this is not a repeat of "Love your neighbor." This is a NEW commandment. Love your brothers and sister in Christ. Love your friends at church. Love your fellow Christians....and love 'em with reckless abandon.

So you want to choose a brand....choose LOVE. Choose Love Jesus' way. If you do, the world will take note and not only come but knock your doors down to be apart of the real thing.

August 15, 2006 8:22:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I am by no means a branding expert, but I suppose I will throw in my two cents! I do tend to agree with Russ’ comments above. I would also like to add that branding is a combination of product as well as identity. For example, Coke, FedEx and Nike have really good marketing materials (Identity) BUT, if Coke tasted like motor oil, FedEx lost packages and Nike’s shoes fell apart, then they would have issues. On the flip side, when you are walking through the grocery store, you have to admit that you are attracted to the appearance of the product. For example, the generic brand of “cola” may taste exactly like Coke, but for some reason people are more apt to purchase or have confidence in Coke because their product LOOKS good! The same goes for Nike, FedEx, etc. At the end of the day, the product should sell itself, but I promise you if I put a cup of Starbucks down next to a cup of Community Coffee (which is very good coffee, by the way), we would be hard pressed to find someone who could taste the difference! I would argue that people don’t go to Starbucks just for the coffee. In fact, a lot of people who go to Starbucks don’t even like coffee! (my wife, for example) So, why is it that they hang out there? Any way you look at Starbucks, they present the same feel. I would venture to say that people are attracted to the “feel” of Starbucks maybe even more than they are the coffee. I think this same principal could be used in the church as well… Russ’ comments provide for a great product… the bread and butter of the organization… The reason for existence… The Great Commission! However, I would encourage you to develop a “feel” that people are attracted to even if they don’t like coffee!


August 16, 2006 11:09:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After re-reading my post, I realized that I may not have explained myself appropriately. My point is that people are typically initially attracted to the image of the product since they have never really experienced the product. In the Church, we can develop an attractive image (“feel”) which would draw those that have never tasted the fruit and then allow the Gospel, Love, Community, Fellowship, etc. (the product) speak for itself!


August 16, 2006 11:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger zoie m said...

Thanks everyone for the "branding" guidance. The only things that I have named in my life are a doll (Betsy), a dog (Riley) and a son (William). So, the thought of helping name a church is a little daunting. While the name is important, the experience or "product" (as the previous post-er wrote) will hopefully speak for itself, AND in a way that leaves a "deliberate impression on our target audience". I pray God will lead us to create a brand that will dispel all of the negative connotations of the word "church" that people bring in its doors. I have read some thoughts from a church marketing expert named Richard Reising. He says this, "One of the reasons branding is not utilized in the church is because it forces us to take a determined stance on who we are. It is risky. Branding is essentially a highly concentrated use of communication. It has only one downside. To the extent a well-crafted brand can assist in growth, an un-strategic or even poorly aimed brand can keep people away and even disassociate your members." The thought that a poorly thought-out, incoherent brand would repel people from the church makes me really want to get this right. Pressure's on! Or rather God's on! Let's keep praying for God's wisdom because I think it's fair to say a good number of churches do not create a "warm and fuzzy" brand. Sorry Rich, I didn't answer your question (How does a new church effectively differentiate itself from other Sunday options?) BUT your question did make me realize how much we need God's guidance to get this thing right. Keep praying. This city does not need another church but a different kind of church! Take care everyone!

August 16, 2006 1:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Rich Barrett said...

Ben, you nailed it with Starbucks. It's so much more than a name or even a product, but it's definitely in "tribe" territory.

When I think about Saab, I think about a company that used to really have that tribe thing going. But then GM bought them and driving a Saab isn't really all that different from driving any other GM product.

So, while Russ correctly asserts that it must be about love, and that the BRAND - the magic, the aura, the feeling that the name & logo evoke - must be love, we still have to figure out how to "stick out" in the mind of the potential attender.

Hertz is yellow. So Avis is red, and National is green. Kodak is yellow, so Fuji is green.

This church we are starting is different. I really believe that. So how can we sieze every opportunity to communicate that difference? In our name, our logo, our colors, our environments...everything.

Zoie has seen it firsthand in Buckhead. This church will be different. Of course, everyone with a new product says that. We're confident that once someone gives NP-Jax a try, they'll be convinced. But the entire brand needs to communicate that even before they hit the doors.

Thanks for the great feedback, everyone!

August 17, 2006 2:41:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous tinkerck said...

I get a little nervous whenever marketing techniques are applied to church life. The incompatibility is revealed when we remember that buying a product is based on establishing a mutually agreeable transaction where both parties get something out of it. But church life is based on things that are inherently good and not consumer-driven. We don't really want people coming for their own self-interests or because our church is the best deal in town. I think a church can establish a reputation and can even link a reputation with a logo and a feel. But if we start trying to use a brand to lend people a sense of being at the "best" church, we're just fostering elitism.

August 18, 2006 10:05:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home