No church is 100% the same, and your distinct DNA is a critical component of your communications superpowers.

The word "branding" gets thrown around a lot in the worlds of marketing, advertising and design. How does that word sound to you? Maybe it sounds cool; maybe it sounds intimidating; maybe it sounds irrelevant, superfluous or even a little suspicious. 

I understand the mixed bag of feelings that comes with the word “branding.” In fact, I have some of those same feelings. It’s an awkward, vague, umbrella term that can mean a lot of different things. And, honestly, on some days, I think it’s easy to feel like branding has nothing to do with the things that feel most important — things like caring for people and helping them grow and develop in their faith. 

But ...

In the years I have worked as a designer at Fishhook with a vast array of churches, I have seen something special take place. When a church is internally healthy, focused and ready to communicate, it is able to tap into a distinct flavor of communication all its own — a unique spice, style and story that resonates with real-life people in their individual communities.

These churches show up in personal, authentic ways. They use accessible, relatable language. They repeat that language consistently. And they do it with a specificity and empathy that is others-aware and outward-focused. 

In other words, they’re good at building trust.

When we talk about branding at Fishhook, in the world of churches and communications, what we are talking about at a very core level is just this — building trust.

Trust is one of the most primal, critical aspects of human development and foundational to any healthy relationship. And while we may understand this well in the context of our families and friendships, it can be easy to take that for granted in the context of the Church. But it’s important.

To build trust with anyone, you have to first understand and embrace your own story.

You can’t pretend to be someone you’re not — the average person’s BS meter will see through it, eventually. And yes, every church has the universal mission to share the same, beautiful gospel story—but each individual church has its own history, culture and context to speak from. As a designer, I personally love digging into those details. All of us at Fishhook do.

No church is 100% the same, and your distinct DNA is a critical component of your communications superpowers.

It’s part of what keeps your regulars coming back each and every Sunday. When you understand what it is, you can maximize it and help more people find it.

As you’re in the thick of the weekly push to Sunday services, or even just deeply involved as a member, it’s easy to think of church as a natural extension of home, a part of your family. At Fishhook, we believe that, too. But we also recognize that many people who do not have a “church home,” just don’t feel that way. Maybe they have baggage. Maybe they just don’t care. Maybe they’re searching. In communicating and connecting well with guests, it’s so important to understand this and to be others-aware. 

That’s why building trust is so important. That’s why branding is essential. We have a lot of work to do. 

Do you understand your church’s distinct story?