Monday, 17 June 2013

To Brand or Not to Brand?


Menai Anglican Church......St Paul’s Anglican Church Menai........Menai Anglican........St Paul’s Menai, whatever you choose to call our church, the name is not what people in our community associate with. 

People go to church and continue to come to this church, for the people, the Bible-based worship and the friendship, not the name, not the brand, not the building. A sense of community is what we all hunger for. Humans are not designed to be solitary. As people begin to seek God it can be a daunting and uncomfortable process to first set foot into a church and be greeted by people they may not know.

So why do we need a brand, a logo, an identity and why don’t we just concentrate on getting our worship right and our hearts in the right place to be able to genuinely welcome newcomers and to reach out into our community about the Good News of the Gospel message?

We live in a material world (as Madonna sings) and in this material world we are surrounded..... no bombarded..... by brands, logos and identities, all day every day. It is so common that we sometimes fail to even notice the branding. Railway stations are easily identified around the world by simple branding, as are airports and other landmarks. We don’t identify these as brands, but rather location identities to help us find our way around.

Most churches, whether they seek to have a brand/logo/identity or not, do in fact have a cross somewhere on the building. This identifies them as churches to people who pass by. The cross is a symbol of Jesus sacrifice for us and it has been used on churches for many years. The cross is a powerful symbol or icon and means a great deal to a Christian. This is our branding, whether we like to admit it or not.

Almost from the start, in 1982, when the first flyers were circulated to the few houses in the Menai/Illawong/Alfords Point area advising of a ‘New Church’ starting up, we sought to have an identity. Something people could associate with us and recognise us by. We moved from Rob Barrie’s house in Hall Drive, to Bangor Community Centre, to Bangor Primary School, as we grew and outgrew facilities. Finally we settled in Barden Ridge (or Lucas Heights) on our current site. Our signage out the front was typical Anglican style. Even today, our blue and white Menai Anglican Church sign carries the traditional logo or branding of the Sydney Anglican Churches.

Under the guidance of Rob Barrie we developed a vision for the church in the 1990’s which, was simply, “Menai for Christ”. Around the same time we started using a logo for the church which reflected this vision. This logo was:

 
This logo was used by the church on newsletters, letterheads and other communications, both internal and external for several years. The incorporation of the ‘t’ into a cross was a reference to our Christian faith.

After the construction of our new extensions at Barden Ridge, the church building became a symbol or logo for our church. This is still used in many of our ministries. 
 
The next stage in our logo or branding became the use of the stained glass imagery. This has become the standard in our current website and our current electronic news items. In this version of our ‘branding’ the abbreviation of our name from Menai Anglican Church to MAC found its origins
This branding looks like this:
 
As we move into our new branding for our church, (which has evolved from the work of a representative group of parishioners) there has been a great deal of thought and prayer involved in finding an image that truly represents what we stand for. Our new vision for our church is
‘Introducing Jesus : Changing Lives’

We needed an image that presents Jesus to our members and our community in a way that is approachable, welcoming and easily recognised. The making up a cross from a wide variety of colours is, in some way, symbolic of how we all come to the cross from different places and backgrounds, but the cross is what binds us together.
Our new logo is:

I started asking why do we need a church logo. The fact is that we have always had one and it is important for us to recognise the importance of having a symbol of our church which people in our community can identify and relate to.

A church logo, although not an end in and of itself, is a powerful means to assisting a church’s vision. As Kent Shaffer of Church Relevance puts it, “A great church logo in and of itself does not create great church branding. But it does give a church the foundation needed to build a solid brand.”
Our new logo is a positive, colourful and contemporary symbol of our cross and the people who come together under it. As we move forward this symbol will become a positive image in our
community, if we are prepared to embrace the vision and believe we can make a difference by “Introducing Jesus and Changing Lives”.

Ian Johnson

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