How do I brand my ministry well?

 

1. Promote an identity, not a product

The best brands in the world do this; brands like Coca-cola, Apple and Nike.  Nike’s motto isn’t “use incredible athletic gear”, it’s “just do it”.  They’re promoting a lifestyle, an attitude, an identity, what it says about you if you buy into their brand.  

A photo by Liz Weston. unsplash.com/photos/PJzc7LOt2IgSo, practically, how do you do this?  Branding is simply communicating about your identity and inviting people to participate. Your identity is what makes you unique, your DNA, who you are, your story. Try getting in a room with some of your key leaders and making a list of words that define you.  Use this time to describe your current identity, not to try to brainstorm about who you want to be.  Unless you have the help of branding experts, branding is usually done best when the goal is to reinforce your identity, not to try to reinvent it.  

One reason you might want your branding to be shaped by your identity, instead of your product, is to avoid promoting a consumerist church culture, where people attend because of what they can get, not because of who they are.  One way you can do this is by communicating more about who you are and less about what you have coming up.  If your website, emails, social media, lobby signage and announcements are inundated with communication about events, classes, and upcoming series, but don’t include core beliefs, mission statements, or defining characteristics, consider changing that. Announcements are important, but don’t allow that to be all you communicate.  

In my student ministry, I made a rule a long img_6095time ago that I was going to take less
photos of special events and on-stage elements, and more photos of our students.  I want the photos we post to communicate more about who we are as a community, and less about what cool things we have to offer. Using genuine photos of people in real interactions communicates identity, not product.

2. Be consistent

Reinforce your branding by coming up with a look and feel, and sticking with it… for several years! Choose a font or two, a color scheme, a style, and a few key phrases, then build all of your communication out of that framework. Slapping your logo on something does not mean you have “branded” it. Building your logo and all of your communication from the same design scheme, a scheme that is informed by your identity, does mean you have branded it.  If you work hard at getting it right in the beginning, this will actually save you lots of time and creative energy in the long run.

A new series or upcoming event can be a challenging exercise in consistency.

 Sometimes we want those things to be fresh and totally different, but think of them as branches of the same tree.  A new series or event should have some consistency with your current branding, but can break a couple fullsizerender-8of the rules as well.  Our brains are wired to make associations. So being consistent allows people to begin recognizing your brand, and making associations to other times they’ve encountered it.
For a great example of this, follow @shereadstruth on instagram. Every time an image of theirs pops up in my feed, I know it’s from them, even before I look at the profile name.  

 

3. Stay Current

Is this something I really need to prioritize?  The gospel doesn’t go out of style, right?  We know that God doesn’t become outdated or irrelevant.  But even Jesus contextualized His message.  He understood the culture and He referenced it frequently to relate with people.

Especially if you are working in student or college ministry, trends are important, and here’s why.  We want students to feel like our ministry is a place where they belong, where they can be accepted, where we get them.  I’ve seen it a bunch of times in our student ministry.  When a new leader walks in who dresses trendy, knows current song lyrics, and uses some of the slang their students use, they win automatic relational points. Students often open up quicker, and are able to be more vulnerable with these leaders because they feel understood.  For older leaders, staying up to date might be a little harder, but let others help you.  Use social media, pinterest, blogs, and your younger friends to influence you. Here’s a list of resources I use for inspiration.   Be yourself! Don’t be the leader who’s trying too hard! But, as genuinely as possible, try to keep an open mind as you allow the pulse of culture to inform your approach.

4. Be inclusive

We want students to know that being a img_6089Christian means they are a child of God,
adopted into His family and given the opportunity to participate in the redemptive work He is doing on earth. They should feel like they’re part of a family, they belong, they aren’t going to be overlooked. Social media has the ability to make them feel very included or very excluded, depending on how it’s used.  Use photos of students, photos of leaders, and photos of the prep you are doing throughout the week to make them feel like they’re part of it all.  Invite them to participate, to be heard, to contribute. Be personal in your wording. Use the words, “I” and “you”.  

The goal is for students to go from using phrases like “I go to Mosaic Students” to “I am a Mosaic Student”, from “I go to church” to “I am a son or daughter of God”.

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DIY Blinder Tutorial

Here’s a step by step tutorial on building blinder lights. The total dimension of each of these is 1’ x 8’ with six 8.5” lights on each. But, you could easily adapt this to use 5.5” lights or a different number of rows and columns (i.e. 4×4 grid instead of 1×6 row).

 

View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016

SHOPPING LIST:

  • Plywood (19/32 Pine Sanded Plywood, 4’ x 8’) – cut to 1’ x 8’
  • Black matte indoor latex paint
  • Hole saw drill bit
  • (6) Bayco Clamp Light with Aluminum Reflector (make sure reflector isn’t dented)
  • View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016

    Lights at 100%

    (6) Warm Incandescent Light Bulbs – 60W (If you’re not planning on having dimming control, 25W would be better. I have these blinders hooked up to a DMX controller, so I used 60W because I wanted 100% to be very blinding, just for crash out moments and effects in high energy songs.

    View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016

    Lights at 40%

    Typically, I keep the intensity at about 30-50%)

  • 6 outlet power strip
  • Assorted zip ties

DETACHABLE FOOT:

  • Plywood (19/32 Pine Sanded Plywood, 4’ x 8’) – cut to 1’x 2’
  • 2×2 Furring Strip, 8’ long
  • Wood screws

TOOLS USED:

  • Drill
  • Sander
  • Paint roller or paint brush
  • Staple gun (not essential)
  • Miter saw (for support foot only)

STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL:

img_38601. Cut plywood into a 1’ x 8’ board. Many hardware stores will do this for you, although their equipment doesn’t allow for super-precise measurements.  If you need an exact size, cut it yourself, but a rough cut worked perfectly for me.

2. Mark center for holes at 1’ apart. Top hole should be 6” down from top edge of board, and centered left to right on board. Each of the following holes are 1’ away from each other. (This left me with an extra 2’ at the bottom end of the plywood. I needed this extra length img_3857but you might consider starting with a 1’ x 6’ piece of plywood if you want the lights to be equally dispersed on the board without extra length at the bottom.)

 

3. Drill holes.

 

 

4. Sand down surface of plywood, being img_3855careful not to take away too much of the material around where the holes were cut. I sanded around the holes too much on some of them and it ended up causing my lights not to screw together tightly.

5. Paint plywood black on all sides.

6. Unattach clamps from lights and unscrew the aluminum reflectors. Put light socket through the back of the hole and screw the reflector onto the front until tightened.

img_41367. Once all 6 lights are in place, attach the power strip to the back by stapling 3 or 4 long zip ties to the back of the board and tightening the zip ties around the power strip to hold it tightly against the board. Plug all of the lights into the power strip then use the same zip tie and staple method to organize and clean up the cord to each light so that cords aren’t hanging, visible from the front, or prone to snagging on things.

8. Screw in light bulbs.

(After this step, I wrapped each reflector in bubble wrap because I was planning to transport them in a trailer to an event and I didn’t want the reflectors to get dented or the bulbs to break).

The next step is building the feet to stand the blinders up in.  You may not need to do this, if you are planning on hanging these, or attaching them to a truss.

img_39239. Cut the 2x2s in two 1’ sections. Then, cut two more 1’ sections with a 45 degree miter on both ends.  Measure the center of the 1’ x 2’ plywood and attach the 2×2 verticals in the center of the board (leaving a little more than enough space to slide the plywood from the blinder in between).  Screw in the diagonals (keeping a spacer in between the verticals). Paint the foot black. I kept the foot unattached from the blinder so that everything could be broken down and transported easily, but if this is a permanent piece, you may want to screw the blinder into the foot.)

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Summer Camp: How we planned a great, weeklong off-site event

1. Be intentional with atmosphere

First impressions are a big deal.  Putting some effort and creativity into the atmosphere at your event can have a huge impact. Even a couple of well-designed banners or some string lights draped from the ceiling can tell your audience, “We care about the experiences you will have here”.

View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016

 

2. Think about the experience you want people to have

Start with a goal for what kind of experience you want to design for your audience (i.e. fun, contemplative, challenging, rejuvenating). We wanted our camp to be high-energy and impactful. We made several decisions that were specifically intended to set them up for that kind of experience.  We hired a super energetic, young, worship band from a local Christian university.  We made a no-cell-phones rule, but, in an effort to make that a positive thing, we made sure we jam packed the camp with fun things to do and captured great photos for them all week long.  We made sure even the sometimes ‘boring’ aspects of camp, like the speaking and the devotional book, were supported with creative elements, engaging stories and fun design. We took the expected, free t-shirt to the next level by offering a full store with 5 different items in a variety of colors and styles. We made sure to give students lots of time in small groups to process what God was doing in their hearts that week. All of these decisions contributed to a fun and impactful summer camp.

3. Don’t let your creative and production elements be an afterthought

Everything I just mentioned that we did to plan an incredible week for our students didn’t happen overnight. I personally tackled one camp task every two weeks for 6 months prior to camp and our team met regularly. Planning a big event like this takes foresight, budgeting, creativity, collaboration and lots of time! 

Planning things like merch, videos, and atmosphere from the very beginning can help you design a more cohesive and impactful event.

4. Help students make memories and bring the camp experience home

Making lasting memories was a high priority for our team.
We used photography, video, and a devotional article to help them take the camp experience home with them. 
We set up a trendy photo spot, brought in quality photographers, made daily recap videos (using animoto.com), and distributed all of our camp photos to students and parents (using pass.us).  These intentional decisions helped our students focus more on engaging with others and God. They also helped our students take the camp experience beyond just that week.

5. Don’t be afraid of hiring and renting

Hiring a worship band or renting lighting equipment can seem really intimidating! But, being willing to expand your resource pool beyond your own church can give you so many options.

EVERS @weareevers

We hired SEU Worship band from South Eastern University, Slap Happy Comedy (an
improv duo we once saw at a conference), a guest speaker, Scott Frazier, (from a church we have a great relationship with) and an up and coming local band (Evers) for a concert.
We also rented audio equipment, lighting, a Penske Truck, and a TV.  It might seem like a lot of money and logistics (which it is), but with good planning, making some strategic hires and rentals can really help you elevate the camp experience for your students. Doing these things made our camp feel very special and set apart, compared to a typical Wednesday night.

6. Think about reusing resources

You can be a lot more efficient View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016with a tight budget if you consider reusing things for multiple events.  For this event, we reused banners, blinder lights, string lights, Ikea lamps, a photo booth frame, some tubs for merch display, and lots of cables. We would have spend hundreds of dollars more if we were always buying things for one-time use only.  What bad stewardship that would have been!

I love giving our students the best experience for their money.  Even if you have a giant budget, stretching that budget to include as much as possible can really glorify God.