Why We Don’t Need a Branded Church

Why We Don’t Need a Branded Church

The church is meant to draw in everyone and anyone, because the church is made up of people across all generations, cultures, races, levels of education, careers, and backgrounds. The message of Scripture is for anyone who would trust in Christ for their salvation (Rom. 1:16). If as a church we are striving to only reach a niche, ideal churchgoer (and thus exclude others), we’ve missed the purpose to which God has called us.

Everywhere our eyes rove, we see branding: the spine of the book you’re reading, the ads dispersed in your Facebook feed, the cartoon on the milk in your fridge, the labels on our clothing, and the sticker on your child’s school binders. I can dig through thrift store bins of blue jeans and recognize what brand they are simply by the back pockets.

Branding is what helps us recognize our favorite brands—it helps us buy the smooth and creamy almond milk instead of the stuff that tastes like water and chalk. Branding also helps us recognize our favorite content creators on social media—we immediately discern their fonts, colors, and logos and slow our scroll to read what they’ve posted.

It sounds harmless, right? Perhaps even helpful. As a believer, you may even strive to choose your church based on its branding—or lack of branding for that matter. But what if branding shouldn’t be a part of the church at all?

The purpose of branding is inclusion and exclusion.

In an article on Forbes about the ten golden rules of branding, they explain that branding requires a niche focus:

Keeping your message focused for your target demographic will make it that much easier to both create content around your personal brand and have others define you … The narrower and more focused your brand is, the easier it is for people to remember who you are.[1]

During my freshman year of college, I started my first blog, and I dove into every resource I could find on Google about how to blog successfully. Over and over, this same message repeated itself in nearly every article I read. Branding begins by identifying a specific reader you want to reach—so specific that you should think of one single person and create each piece of content for that particular reader.

Once you’ve created this ideal client/reader, you form your brand to best reach them. In another article in Forbes, they explain that where most brands and businesses fail is by trying to reach everyone, but businesses that begin with a narrowed niche tend to thrive. [2] In other words, the more specific your ideal customer is, the more likely it is for your business to succeed.

By creating a brand like this, you are seeking to draw in people like your ideal client and in turn drive away anyone who isn’t like them. Consider some well-known brands like Hollister: If middle-aged people walked into one of those stores, would they get the sense that they belonged there? Of course not, because the brand is built to draw in teenagers who like beachy styles.

Branding is incompatible with the message and mission of the church.

This model is useful for businesses. If you’re a Christian freelance writer, you don’t want to draw in clients looking for medical writers. My husband runs a business repairing and building guitars, and he doesn’t want to draw in people who want factory-built wind instruments. As a business, you must put your energy into reaching the right people, not all people.

But this business model can’t work for the church.

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