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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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.

I am Tiffany Kelly

What I do:tiffanyKellySQ (1)

Since 2011, I have been working in the Emerging Generations Department (Middle School, High School and Young Adult) of a quickly growing, multi-site church in Central Florida. I primarily oversee the production and branding side of the ministry. Most weeks, that translates to a lot of gathering production, training volunteers (for media, lighting, and audio), video production with some graphic design, web design, and atmosphere. As a part-time staff member with a lot on my plate, I’ve had to develop strategies for working efficiently and only doing high-impact projects.  I’ve also had to learn a lot about delegating tasks and training volunteer teams. My hope for this blog is to share some lessons I’ve learned about effectively managing production and creative areas of ministry.

Where I started:

I actually began my career path with hopes and dreams of becoming an architect.  I’ve always been artistic as well as having a natural aptitude for math and physics. So, since Middle School, I’ve thought I would love a career that involved designing buildings… some engineering, some creativity – perfect!  I worked hard to get a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Architecture from Miami University (of Ohio) and Masters of Fine Arts in Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design (traveling to my favorite cities and interning at small architecture firms along the way).  But shortly after I graduated, God began to change my heart about my career path.  The catalyst  was a short-term mission trip I went on to Guatemala.  On that trip, for the first time since becoming a Christian at 13 years old, I realized that God wanted to use my gifts and talents to glorify him.  I always knew that I could glorify God in small ways as an architect, but a career of ministry had never been on my radar.  Quite honestly though, I had never asked. I had insecurities about what kinds of things I excelled at, and I wrongly assumed that God wouldn’t want me for vocational ministry.  To me, ministry meant that I would have to be a good speaker, highly relational, charismatic, and extroverted.  I was none of these things.  So, when I returned from that mission trip and felt God calling me to ministry (specifically youth ministry), I was confused and anxious. But my passion and vision for youth ministry continued to grow, so one night, I made a deal with God (which I wouldn’t necessarily suggest).  I told Him I would follow any plan He had for my life, as long as He was with me and He would help me figure out the details… Within the next year, He opened doors for ministry opportunities that were perfect for my specific skill set.

More about me:

12241618_10102655385727588_6281486109622046620_nI enjoy painting/drawing, doing home improvement projects, travelling, reading, swimming, volleyball, discovering new music, cooking, listening to podcasts, and finding a good bargain.  I recently married my best friend and the funniest man I know, Andy.  We met through serving together in our young adult ministry, a passion we share.  We also share a love of really good coffee! We have 2 dogs and 9 nieces and nephews.  We spend a lot of time with our family and friends.  We’re outdoorsy… (when we feel like it), which means a camping trip, a beach trip, a theme park day, or an outdoor festival every now and then.  We like to share and explore culture together by going to concerts, visiting galleries and museums, learning to cook exotic foods, travelling, and trying new restaurants.

Hopes and Dreams for the Future:

We hope to start a family soon and are praying about adopting.

We are dreaming about and working towards getting out of debt.

13100800_10102948385363968_8142991610224108229_nWe are designing a tiny home on wheels that we will build ourselves within the next 5 or 10 years. We plan to transport it to some land in the Tennessee mountains and vacation in it with our family.

The church we’re a part of is growing quickly so we’re excited about being a part of some transitional steps that are forthcoming.  As a couple, we see ourselves continuing to be a part of young adult ministry, worship/production, and missional community leadership (our version of small groups).

In my current role on staff, I would love to see our Student Ministry as well as our church taking new strides towards networking with other churches to share resources and strategies.  I also have a goal for our Student Ministry to have a more intentional and effective social media strategy.  And, I would love to help develop an even more relevant, energetic, contextualized environment for students.  And finally, I am continually focused on building these dreams on the shoulders of a team, not just myself.  Each day, I have to approach my job with the goal of equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry.

About Design Worship

Have you ever gotten to the end of your work week and realized that several things on your to-do list have fallen through the cracks? Ever felt like there is always more ministry to do and never enough time?  Where do the production, design, video, and social media tasks fall on your priority list?

For many pastors of small churches, youth pastors, or over-taxed support staff or volunteers, branding your ministry is the last thing on your mind and your to-do list.  But in this blog, I will share with you why it should be the first (while still allowing time to accomplishing everything else on your plate).  That may sound impossible, but I’ll also share with you what years of experience on staff for a student ministry of a growing multi-site church has taught me about how to make the biggest impact with limited time and resources. Although my context is student ministry, many of these strategies will translate for pastors of small churches, leaders who are wearing a lot of hats, or anyone who is overseeing media and production of a church/ministry.

So, why should you care about media, design, and production? The reality for most people who walk through your doors, is that they are inundated with media from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. Aren’t we all?  The way we process information has forever been shaped by the constant visual and audio stimulation we are accustomed to experiencing.  So when we decide how we want to share the gospel, create community, and set the atmosphere for people to worship and experience God, we would be missing the mark if we didn’t care deeply about how all of that is packaged and delivered to a overstimulated generation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all suggestion that we should put on a performance each week. But, I am suggestion that we can use the creativity that our creative God has generously shared with us to make the experience of coming to church more engaging, authentically bring life to the words of scripture and help people feel included in their community in a way that displays the value and worth God has placed on them.