Over recent years, the concepts of branding and logos have become more prevalent within church communities. Still, there’s often a lingering question: Why would a church, which exists to serve God and people, need a brand guide?

When you think about popular brands, what comes to mind? Is it Nike’s simple swoosh? McDonald’s’ cheerful golden arches? These companies – among others – are iconic for their recognizability and consistency. They simply stand out. And this isn’t just because of their logos or catchphrases – it’s because we have come to associate their brands with experiences, feelings, and even trust.

Do Churches Need Brand Guides?

Over recent years, the concepts of branding and logos have become more prevalent within church communities. Still, there’s often a lingering question: Why would a church, which exists to serve God and people, need a brand guide? We aren’t big corporations, after all, and we don’t exist to sell products or beat out competitors.

But we do exist to point people to Jesus, and we do exist to create a culture that reflects heaven. And whether we know it or not, we are constantly creating and reinforcing culture through our imagery, messaging, and communication styles. In this way, every church (even yours!) has a “brand,” whether intentionally crafted or not.

More Than Fonts and Colors

Your church’s mission cannot be encapsulated in fonts and colors and catchphrases, of course. But just as a well-crafted logo or a memorable slogan can evoke certain emotions and associations in the commercial world, a consistent brand can help communicate an important message. Because of this, a brand guide is more than just a style guide; it’s a blueprint for communicating who your church is and what you stand for! A thoughtful and consistent brand can serve as a powerful tool to help your church communicate its mission, values, and vision in ways that resonate with both your congregation and the surrounding community.

Essential Elements of a Church Brand Guide

Recently, my church went through the process of refreshing our brand guide. We did this to enhance its usability, align with our current style, and ensure that all staff and volunteers have the tools they need to create content in alignment with our unique culture.

If you’re ready to start creating (or updating!) a brand guide for your church, here are all the elements your brand guide should include.

Mission, Vision, and Core Values:

If you have yet to develop mission and vision statements, start here! These elements are foundational to your church’s identity and provide a compass for all branding decisions. Every brand guide should contain a statement about your mission (your goal), your vision (the ideal future you’re striving for), and your core values (the principles guiding your work).

Include these statements at the beginning of your brand guide in simple, clear language that gives all users a clear idea of who your church is and what you stand for.

Logo Usage:

A logo isn’t merely a cool graphic; it’s a visual representation of your church. Because of this, your brand guide should demonstrate how to properly display your logo (think variation details, spacing prerequisites, and illustrative examples of incorrect usage.)

For example, my church’s brand guide specified that our logo should only show up in black or white (never blue, green, etc.) with a minimum height of 3/8th inches. We also provided visuals to illustrate correct and incorrect usage. This helps ensure that our church’s first impression remains consistent and recognizable!

Color Palette:

Colors have the power to evoke emotions and create mental associations between people in your brand. Put simply, colors really matter! Accordingly, every church should be intentional about choosing colors that reflect the culture of their church community.

My church chose to focus on a more neutral color palette so that the vibrant images of people in our congregation stand out against the neutral backdrop. Other churches may prefer bold, passionate colors like red or tranquil colors such as blue. Whatever you choose, make sure your brand guide clearly lists your primary and secondary colors, along with their respective HEX, RGB, and CMYK codes, to ensure a consistent hue across digital and printing platforms. This detailed info will help your teams keep the color consistent in print and digital formats, ensuring a unified look that’s distinctly “you.”

Typography:

Does your church have a consistent font or font pairing it uses across web and printed assets? If not, now is an excellent time to select one! Consistency in fonts doesn’t just boost readability; it carves out a distinct, recognizable look for all your communications. My church opted for a modern and legible sans serif font for body text with a bold serif font for headings.

Clear guidelines in our brand guide ensure every written communication, from newsletters to event posters, reflects our church’s unique style and is easy to read. As you create your brand guide, highlight your primary and secondary fonts, indicating their use cases, such as headings, subheadings, and body text.

Tone of Voice:

Understanding tone of voice may seem abstract, but it’s straightforward with some thought. Is your church liturgical with deep theological teaching? Your tone might be “reflective” and “educational.” More contemporary with a focus on evangelism? Your tone could be “warm,” “simple,” and “inclusive.”

In our church’s brand guide, we outlined clear language examples of how to align our communications with our desired tone. This clarity ensures our messages always resonate correctly with our community. You can do this in your own brand guide by providing “say this, not that” statements and adding helpful tone descriptions or messaging pillars.

Photography and Imagery:

If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, a brand guide should offer clear instructions on photography and imagery! To do this, offer guidelines on the type of imagery that aligns with your church’s narrative, specify the preferred editing style, and mention any subjects or themes to avoid. Answer questions such as “Do we prefer natural or low light?” and “Do we prefer candid or staged shots?” Adding this information to your brand guide will ensure that volunteer and staff photographers capture the images that truly reflect your church’s heart.

Print and Digital Materials Templates:

Whether it’s a bulletin handed out after service or a digital newsletter emailed to members, consistency reinforces your brand. To help with this, my church’s brand guide included Canva templates for both print and digital materials, ensuring a uniform look across all communication channels. By clicking the Canva link, users can access these templates and quickly create flyers, bulletins, and announcement slides that are not just informative but also beautifully and consistently designed.

Whether it’s a bulletin handed out after service or a digital newsletter emailed to members, consistency reinforces your brand. To help with this, my church’s brand guide included Canva templates for both print and digital materials, ensuring a uniform look across all communication channels. By clicking the Canva link, users can access these templates and quickly create flyers, bulletins, and announcement slides that are not just informative but also beautifully and consistently designed.

Be Prepared for Changes

Change is Inevitable, but Clarity is Crucial. Even as you put in the work to define your brand, remember that it’s completely normal for brands to change over time! Your church will go through seasons, and your church’s brand may need to develop in order to continue resonating with your community and conveying your message effectively. However, always make changes with caution and clarity.

In essence, your brand guide should be a living document that provides a strong yet adaptable foundation for your church’s branding and communication efforts. Its purpose is to ensure consistency, enhance recognition, and help effectively and coherently convey your message, mission, and values to both your congregation and the larger community.

Time to Get Started

To reiterate, crafting a comprehensive brand guide is more than an exercise in aesthetics. It’s about ensuring that every aspect of your church’s communication – visual, verbal, and otherwise – resonates with your mission, vision, and values. A clear, concise, and well-thought-out brand guide is an invaluable tool, helping you to create a powerful brand presence that will help your church point people to Jesus and partner with the mission of God in the world!

Looking for more resources for your church? Check out Breeze’s resource page for guides on church salary, church fundraising, and more!