Tag: branding

Challenge: Spend 9 minutes a day promoting Jesus online

brand jesus

There was a while when I was tempted to buy into the idea that you should think about yourself as a brand. Who am I kidding – I bought into the idea. Once upon a time I would have read this suggestion to spend a magic nine minutes a day developing my own brand and thought it was dynamite advice for getting ahead in this world. Because it probably is.

I like branding. I like marketing. I like growing a brand. I like people to like me. So it made sense to think about building a tribe of devoted followers who want to hang off my every word, or like my every status, or whatever it is that people who are brands crave. But that’s a dangerous path to making yourself the centre of the universe. And I don’t want to be the centre of my universe – let alone anybody else’s.

You’re not a brand, you’re a human. You don’t have a brand. Cattle have brands. You’re not a cow. I know this because cows can’t read.

Brand Jesus

If you’re a Christian – you’re not out to make your own name, or craft your own image.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” – Romans 8:29

And you know you’re not the centre of the universe. Jesus is.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” – Colossians 1

Paul, who spent a significant part of his life promoting brand Jesus (and not brand Paul) was also branded by Jesus – the scars he bore for his efforts were scars pointing people to his king.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world… From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. – Galatians 6

So here’s a challenge. If we want to live out our new reality – pointing people to the centre of reality as we become more like him – why not figure out how you can spend nine minutes a day promoting Jesus online.

Nine minutes doesn’t sound like a lot – and it’s not (promoting Jesus is a whole of life thing). But as the people behind the 9 minute personal brand challenge point out – it adds up, and it’s better than nothing.

9 Minutes a day translates into three hours a month. Can you imagine the impact on your career if you focused on the brand called you for three full hours every month?”

So. Nine minutes a day. Can you do it? Will people notice? Who knows. But it will, at the very least, change you – because the way we use the mediums we use changes us as we use them. perhaps it will be part of the process of conforming you into the image of Jesus.

Some ideas

These are like the low hanging fruit. I’m just sort of riffing off (or ripping off) the tips from the Lifehacker post where I saw the 9 minute idea.

1. Write something about following Jesus. Engage with the world you live in. Share it. A blog post, a Facebook status, an email, a message to a friend. Create content that shows you don’t live for your own glory, but to glorify Jesus.

2. Read the Bible. Share it. Not in the weird contextless way that so many people seem to do. Even my eyes glaze over at those posts – and I love the Bible. But show how it hits your heart, not just your head.

3. Pray for people. Your friends. People who need to know Jesus. It’s God who changes people’s hearts, by his Spirit, not your pithy Facebook status. That’s part of realising that your own brand has nothing to do with it…

4. Read some things by other Christians. Curate them. Share them with your friends. Discuss them with others. Be an editor for your friends. Social media, like traditional media, needs deliberate editors. People are increasingly discovering content via social media, so why not supply it?

5. Encourage your friends. Post stuff on Facebook walls. PM people with a note of encouragement – ask how you can pray for them (and do it). Send encouraging emails. Invite people to catch up in real life.

6. Comment on discussions with your friends in a way that points people to Jesus (both in your content and manner), and that adds value to whatever the conversation is (too often Christians run into these forays spouting jargon that just confuses people, mind the gap a bit, explain why you think differently while being humble and loving those you disagree with).

7. Enter the fray in one of the countless discussions about Christianity (or anything) on other media platforms – like the one about the amazing woman who forgave her husband’s killers. Stand up for Jesus.

8. Be, visibly, a Christian online – in all your profiles. Write them so they’re about how amazing Jesus is, not how amazing you are. It’s a bit like sticking a Jesus fish on your car, it keeps you accountable when it comes to what you share, what you say, and how you say it.

9. Show that you appreciate the goodness of God’s creation. Share good stuff. Fun stuff. Not just overtly Christian stuff. Be grateful. Acknowledge the source of the good stuff you’re enjoying and sharing. Not in a super spiritual way, just in a way that cultivates thankfulness in your own mind and demonstrates it to others.

10. Try not to self-promote. We have a massive tendency to try to put ourselves at the centre of the universe, and social media seems designed to facilitate and amplify that tendency.

Will you join me in trying to do this? Nine minutes a day. What are some other ideas?

The step before content: finding your website’s voice

A little while back I was posting through the process of putting together a church website (post 1, post 2). While I’ve been posting about other things, the process of actually putting together and writing content for the new website is picking up steam.

One of my big jobs before we launch the site is coming up with a content strategy and a content schedule – defining the scope of our website and thinking about what sort of things we’ll post, and putting together a calendar for posts that matches up with our church calendar, and keeps things coming along with regularity. I can’t emphasise how important these two things are if you’re going to do something other than a static website.

Content is king.

New content is, like in the history books of any exciting monarchy – more interesting than a royal who sits around and gets bloated or doesn’t really do anything different.

But before one gets to content, one needs to think about how this content is presented. It’s not that style triumphs over substance. It’s a question of one of the biggest bits of getting any sort of traction or recognition for a brand.

Your church is a brand.

Brands aren’t creepy corporate entities like they used to be – they’re something that describes the association people develop with entities. Including your church.

Your brand is not your logo.

Your brand is your story, it’s your character, it’s what people think when someone says the name of your church… your website helps create your brand because it’s where people experience your story, and your character. It’s where they hear your voice (or read it).

So the first step – assuming you’ve got a pretty realistic notion of what your brand is (hint, don’t pretend to be Apple if you’re Dodo, Dodo, the internet that flies…), is to figure out the sort of voice and tone that is going to carry your brand messages (stuff you want to say about you) to other people. The people reading your site.

This needs to match up with what people are going to experience if they move from your virtual front door to your real world front door on a Sunday. Nothing will turn people off quicker than something that isn’t authentic.

For those who’ve been following at home as I’ve unpacked the relationship between ethos, pathos, and logos when it comes to church communications – your voice, in this sense,  is mostly pathos, though it’ll influence the words that you use – but it has to come out of your ethos…

So how do you figure out what your voice sounds like.

I sat down with a few people the other day to think about how we want to sound as we write – across the board. We don’t want to be really prescriptive – there’s no blacklist when it comes to what words we will and won’t use – it’s more a descriptive thing.

And one of the things that helps is to play a little brand association game. There are plenty of big money brands out there who spend a lot of time thinking about their target market (pretty much our target market – in just about every case), and tailor their messages accordingly.

So we thought about some popular brands – Australian brands – who resonate with the kind of people who we might find in our neighbourhood. And we thought about our “product” – what a church service feels like, what the personalities of our preachers are like, and our service leaders… what the vibe is on a Sunday, and what we’d like it to be.

This will be different for every church because there are heaps of variables – but I’m not a huge fan of all churches sounding the same on their websites. I’m not a fan of churchy jargon. I’m not a fan of overly technical language. So it helps me, as I write, to write in character – what would this type of person say… maybe you should think of your church as a famous character or actor… as long as its authentic.

Hopefully if everybody jumps on board with this style it’ll drive consistency across our communications, so that the job of moderating, rewriting, and posting stuff to multiple platforms doesn’t fall to just one person. It’ll also hopefully stop anyone hitting post on anything reactive where the tone of our reaction is damaging.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the document – I hope it’s helpful.

Bear in mind – this is a draft, it isn’t anything official – it hasn’t been approved. It’s not our church policy. We’re not inauthentic Billy Connolly rip-offs, just with less swearing…

This is just something I’m doing as part of the process of launching a new website, and it’s something I think is important to that process.

This is a corporate style suggestion for guiding the approach to speaking, presenting, writing, graphic design, and recording as our church across different platforms including:

  • Online – Our website, our blogs, social media
  • Written resources – Printed material, the ministry papers, and e-books
  • Marketing Material – Announcements, Slides, handouts, advertising, and fliers
  • Videos and multimedia

It is not a prescriptive or restrictive guideline for individual personalities within the staff team, or congregation – that would be odd and decidedly inauthentic, but, instead, describes an aspirational corporate approach to communication conducted on behalf of the church community to represent our church to the community at large.

Ultimately, we don’t want our individual or corporate personality or brand getting in the way of people hearing about Jesus clearly.

Our brand personality – the “voice” we choose to speak with – can be described up through a list of the qualities we aspire to, but in summary we aim, through how we communicate, to:

  • faithfully present the good news of Jesus,
  • be persuasive to our audience – be it those we aim to reach, those connected with us, or those we serve,
  • encourage people to connect with Jesus, and with our church.

We aim to be winsome, generous, interesting, and wise in our contribution to any conversation – taking our core business (the gospel), and convictions (our philosophy of ministry), seriously, but not taking ourselves too seriously in the process.

We want stories the gospel itself, and stories about the work of the gospel in the lives of real people to drive our message – not our own corporate spin or in house jargon.

We want testimonials not advertorials.

We want authenticity, so real people with real stories will carry the communication load wherever possible – rather than simple assertions like this one.

This means we aim to present our message, and ourselves, with:

  • truth,
  • love,
  • grace,
  • humility,
  • integrity,
  • clarity,
  • good humour, including a dash of laconic “Aussie” self-deprecation.

These are essentially the traits we hope to display every time we put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard – whether we are presenting our own position on issues, or responding to criticism.

We are, ultimately, in all areas, beggars telling other beggars where to find food.

Some “golden” brands to plunder…
Ultimately we hope that our communication will be shaped by the Lord Jesus, and the cross, and that we will be guided by the Holy Spirit, and the example of the apostles and those who have gone before us – but there is also much we can learn about communication and branding from the world around us.

Augustine says we should see truth wherever we can, and “plunder the Gold of the Egyptians” to serve the communication of the gospel.

Here are some secular brands that capture something of the communications ethos behind the Creek Road “brand personality.”

The best brands to look at are those with lots of money to spend on advertising and branding – banks and beer companies…

If we were a bank, we’d be something like ING – both focusing on, and presenting ourselves as focused on, our core business with minimal distractions (for them – banking, for us – the gospel). We pursue excellence in our product rather than spending time and money talking about how good we are. Our communication is personality driven, and simple, without expensive bells and whistles (or walking ATMs). When we speak with a little self-awareness, and self-deprecating humour. The joke is never at the expense of others, but ourselves.

Like ING, we recognise that people in our audience have negative experiences or impressions of our product (Church), and industry (religion), but expect, and speak as though, our product (both the Gospel, and our church) can exceed overturn those impressions and past negative experiences.

If we were a beer – we’d be XXXX, the beer for the everyman, sold through human stories and relationships that people can relate to (think the group of guys on a camping trip), with an emphasis on our humanity and our fallibility (like the guys making bad mistakes on their camping trip), and on our desire and intention to achieve our others-centered goals (like the guys cooking dinner in a new and exciting way). We’ve got an old product – one of the oldest brands going still in existence (Jesus), but like XXXX, we’ll try new ways to make it appeal to new audiences because we believe in the product.

This is a voice I think we can pull off without having to moderate our personalities too much across our team. It’s not a perfect fit for anyone – but it’s a comfortable fit for everyone. It seems real. It seems manageable.

So what do you think?

Does this whole process seem a little artificial?

Is it really all that necessary (it’s possible we’re overthinking this)?

How important is consistency?


How would you describe the voice of your church? How would you describe the voice of other churches using a famous pop-culture character?

Apple’s OS naming dilemma


I’m hoping for Sabre-Tooth.

A (lengthy) primer on Graphic Design

This transcript of a radio piece provides a nice little snapshot of the inner workings of a graphic designer’s mind, when it comes to how they think about their own profession.

Some quotes.

“Graphic design has been likened to a wine glass. When we drink wine we barely notice the glass it’s served in. It wouldn’t be true to say that we don’t care what glass we drink out of — we wouldn’t choose to drink a rare vintage out of a Tupperware mug, for example — but it’s the wine that matters, not the vessel it comes in.”

“For many observers and commentators, graphic design’s embeddedness in commercial culture makes it into one of the specious modern black arts, like spin, hype and branding. And it’s undoubtedly true that most graphic design is about selling things in a consumer society.”

“Most recognise the fundamental difference between artists and designers: artists create work that comes from an inner impulse. Or to put it another way, they write their own briefs. Graphic designers, on the other hand, respond to briefs supplied by others — they are reactive. To go back to our glass of wine — artists supply the wine, graphic designers supply the glass.”

I, for one, appreciate the work of graphic designers. They make it possible to judge an object by its appearance because their work ties an object to a particular culture. And I like that.

Honest Logos: The truth behind the brands

There is often a dissonance between what a company wants its brand to be and what its brand actually is. Your logo is not your brand. Your brand is what people think of you when they see your logo…

These are some “corrections” of famous brands.

There are a few more here, where I found them.

Is it time to do away with “church”?

I was sitting in church this morning wondering why there wasn’t anybody new there. Wondering why it is so hard to get people who aren’t just transfers from another church out the door on a Sunday morning and into the Christian community that goes on in often uncomfortable buildings with a bunch of weird counter-cultural trappings.

I’m wondering if we need a rethink. Not so much in the mechanics of what goes on around the globe on a Sunday morning – I think there’s a pretty Biblical picture of what Christians should do when they gather that most churches are trying to emulate. I’m thinking we need to rethinking our branding.

In the broader non visual identity context, your branding can be defined as “the reaction people have in their head when they think about your product” – it’s like a word association game. And I reckon say the word “church” to most Aussies and you’ll get something like “child abuse cover up”, “money hungry”, or in more positive cases “boring” or “conservative”… I’m guessing an invite to “church” on the weekend is likely to result in a negative response from most people’s friends. And lets face it, nobody wants to invite friends to church these days anyway. Any evangelism I do is more likely to take the form of apologetics with friends who are hostile to Jesus already, or conversations when people find out I’m studying at Bible College. This might be my failing, but I’m pretty sure most people aren’t inviting their friends to church every week. And because I think like a marketer one of my first responses is to question our branding strategy. If people are thinking bad things about church, but still, according to the Gruen Transfer, thinking good things about Jesus, then perhaps we need a change in terminology. It seems like a bandaid solution – but at some point a word just becomes too tainted by negative associations to reclaim.

The whole “marketing Jesus because people still love the idea of him” idea has it problems though. See what happens when people try to make Christianity cool in this article from the Weekend Australian.

“Jesus comes with a large production crew these days. If you doubt it, simply Google churches like Planetshakers, in Melbourne, or Paradise Community Church (Adelaide), or the grand-daddy of them all, Hillsong, which now boasts a global reach to cities like London, New York and Cape Town from its base in Sydney’s Hills district. (And if you don’t know what Google is, good luck understanding this phenomenon; like most of their peers, hip young Christians frame much of their day and establish much of their identity via the internet). Lined up beside each other, it is hard to ignore the similarities between the churches’ websites. From their home pages, each promotes a funky, urban feel with sophisticated graphics, high-quality video clips, stadium-style rock and pop music, and an emphasis on connection not just through Sunday services but an array of smaller social groups and through blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Harder still is any attempt to locate the churches’ denomination on the traditional spectrum, such as that used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. As it turns out, all of the churches named above belong to the Assemblies of God tradition, a Pentecostal group which renamed themselves the Australian Christian Churches in 2007. But if their websites are any indication, affiliation with an overarching denomination is far less important these days than cultivating your individual church identity – or brand.”

Now, unlike the Australian I don’t think Megachurches with ridiculously good looking pastor couples, are the answer (but if you want to plant one here’s my guide).

“Another striking finding was that a majority of all denominations agreed it was “OK to pick and choose your religious beliefs”. Among those Gen Yers who do identify as Christians, this openness about specific beliefs – what some critics would call moral relativism – might go some way to explaining the new fluidity around church attendance and the related reluctance to affiliate strictly with any particular church.

In the US, this trend has been tagged the “Love Jesus, Hate Church” syndrome; a disenchantment with old-style churches that lock followers into “us-versus-them” mentalities, both internally, in the form of ancient hierarchies dividing the clergy and laity, and externally, in sometimes bloody rifts with other Christian denominations. In Australia, it manifests among Christian Gen Y-ers as an overwhelming focus on one’s personal connection with Jesus Christ, with attendance at a bricks-and-mortar church seen as only one of many means of honouring that connection. Actual denominations are seen increasingly as irrelevant – if they are recognised at all.”

There’s some truth in this last paragraph, and we’d do well to rethink how we do church in the more conservative and reformed circles I move in. But the start of that quote is problematic. What we can’t do is sell out the truth, and our exclusive claims to truth, in order to be more palatable to the masses. I’ve written previously about a problem I have with only focusing on God’s love in our marketing (the John 3:16 as theme verse thing). That was one of the problems I had with the Jesus All About Life campaign, and it’s a possible problem with any “rebrand” of the Christian message – see the recent hoo-ha about Rob Bell’s decision to sell out hell in the name of a palatable gospel (though read Arthur’s post about how it may not be a good idea to jump in and judge this before Bell’s book actually comes out)

So I reckon the language of church needs to change (and the way we do church, but that’s something I need to think about more, the Total Church model is one idea, this Messy Church concept is something I heard about during the week that also piqued my curiosity). Both of these models clearly have problems. Baby and bathwater problems. But there are some core concepts to them that are good. Ultimately we want people to meet Jesus and have their lives radically transformed. It seems to me that calling what we do “church” may increasingly become a barrier to that. So I vote we change it.

But what to call it? At QTC we’re big on the notion of “family of God” as the basis for our ecclesiology. But that sounds a little bit like a cult. I like the word “community” – but that’s because I’m currently thinking that one connecting point between the church and our culture is creating (or recreating) community for people living in an increasingly individualised society. What do you reckon? Am I barking up the wrong tree? What’s the point of staying attached to a word that etymologically comes from the Greek “House of the Lord” anyway? Gathering, or community, is more biblical.

Hitler’s Style Guide

Wow. The Nazis were apparently big on branding. Check out this style guide

The policing of all things Swastika was the responsibility of Dr. Robert Ley, the head of the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF) and the Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude, KdF). Known as much as anything for his heavy drinking, this former editor of the anti-Semitic newspaper, Westdeutsche Beobachter, was not a designer or art director, but garnered considerable power owing to his intense loyalty to Hitler. One of his most ambitious design initiatives was taking over the development of the Volkswagen (people’s car) from Porsche.

Perhaps a lesser, though significant, responsibility was developing a NSDAP handbook that detailed the organizing principles and mechanics of building the Nazi movement. It is this 550 page, red cloth-bound book titled Organizationsbuch der NSDAP, with the symbol of “Greater Germany” embossed in silver on the front, which turns out to be the elusive standards manual. The DAF was also responsible for typesetting guides and other graphic arts handbooks, but this is the graphic masterpiece of the Master Race.

There’s a copy for sale at this rare books auction site too. If you’re a collector.

More on the place of “gimmicks” in ministry

Some have suggested that “positive interactions” is a better way to frame this than “gimmicks” (which I used previously) but thinking in a PR/branding framework is a blessing, and a curse, that I am unfortunate enough to carry.

Mikey has posted a great post pondering about how such gimmicks, or “goodwill exercises” can be used on campus to promote his AFES group at a university market day (when everybody is giving out stuff).

He shared in the comments that he’s started reading blogs about how to stand out at trade-shows to think through the issue. Here are a couple of the tips he picked up.

“1. “Market outside of what you paid for: A big mistake that many exhibitors make at tradeshows is sticking to what they believe they have paid for. This means only marketing from a booth, following all the rules of the event and not venturing out. This is the easy path, and one that is often taken because the staff at a booth is not incentivized to do more. If you think about the tradeshows that you have been to, the brands that stand out most are the ones that are wandering the halls, attending and asking questions at sessions, and generally taking a more proactive and guerilla approach to marketing.”

2 “Spend on the giveaways, not the booth. Everyone knows that nothing spreads faster at the tradeshow than a brand with a really big or valuable giveaway. ”

Both are good advice in my experience helping brainstorm trade show presence (and presents). But it’s not just about picking a big or valuable giveaway – the big or valuable giveaway needs to tie in to your key message, or your brand, in some way. The tradeshow idea is brilliant. We used to try to come up with really memorable tradeshow gifts that tied into our messages – you don’t just want it to be good. You want it to be good and relevant.

A few years ago, when we were marketing North Queensland in Brisbane I wanted to give people compasses and tell them to follow their way to paradise (but getting them to stop in Townsville would have involved purchasing a massive magnet (which, incidentally, is how Magnetic Island got its name)). Then, when water restrictions were biting I wanted to give people empty shower egg timers and water pistols (which would have been fun at trade shows). We ended up going with water bottles with North Queensland’s average annual rainfall printed on the label.

I think there’s something to thinking about how we can use a good gimmick as a hook for our message, not just in the university context but in the work of promoting our churches.

Anti-product placement

I’m surprised this took so long, when I think about it… The New Yorker is reporting that certain brands are buying the products of their competitors and sending them, as freebies, to celebrities of questionable brand value hoping that they’ll stop using their own products, and start using their competitors.

The story focuses on a celeb named Snooki, I take it she’s the US equivalent of Matthew Newton.

“Allegedly, the anxious folks at these various luxury houses are all aggressively gifting our gal Snookums with free bags. No surprise, right? But here’s the shocker: They are not sending her their own bags. They are sending her each other’s bags! Competitors’ bags!

Call it what you will — “preemptive product placement”? “unbranding”? — either way, it’s brilliant, and it makes total sense. As much as one might adore Miss Snickerdoodle, her ability to inspire dress-alikes among her fans is questionable. The bottom line? Nobody in fashion wants to co-brand with Snooki.”

Banning social media a band-aid solution

The Penrith Panthers have joined a bunch of other major sporting teams (including Manchester United) in banning their players from having a presence on popular social networks Twitter and Facebook. I can’t see, from a branding point of view, how this is a good thing for the club – surely having the players use these mediums productively, for the benefit of fans, would be a more beneficial long term strategy.

There is, of course, the danger of players being people. Being a bit too human. Airing dirty laundry. Or, doing what LeBron James just famously did in the U.S – using the medium to generate buzz around their playing future and leveraging up their salary and status. I can see why clubs would want to stop that sort of behaviour.

But the Panthers say they are doing this to “protect the players” essentially from themselves. Here’s what the Panthers have said about the policy (from FoxSports):

“We don’t want our players using these social networking websites. They are an invasion of privacy. They can be dangerous.”

Well, not really, they’re not an invasion of privacy but a forum where you can voluntarily make parts of your life unprivate. Nobody is questioning the capacity for these platforms to be misused. But dangerous? Not really.

Brisbane seem to have a more measured (and reasonable) approach:

“The Broncos have added a clause to their code of conduct that states any player posting a detrimental comment on Facebook or Twitter could be fined or suspended.”

My former employers had a policy along similar lines – with instructions not to engage in narky online flamewars (a paraphrase) we were to participate in online discussion in good humour, while recognising privacy and confidentiality concerns.

The FoxSports story, I think, hits the nail on the head when it comes to the motives of these moves:

“NRL clubs are deeply concerned about what players post in their status bar and whether their party photos are a “bad look”.”

It’s ultimately not about player safety – but about managing the NRL’s brand. And at this point I think the heavy handed “no go” social media policy is treating symptoms of the problem rather than its root cause. If players weren’t doing anything (in public, or private) that could be posted online in an embarrassing way – then there wouldn’t be a problem. Keeping the players off Facebook doesn’t stop photos being put up, nor does it stop those photos being sent to a journalist.

The real key to not damaging your brand via social networks is to not be doing stuff that would damage your brand. That’s where clubs should be directing their energy and attention.

There’s a further danger, which this story picks up, of players not present on Facebook being impersonated by people with less than optimal intentions. Apparently it’s happening with superstar Jarryd Hayne right now – and previously it has been an issue on Twitter for people like Kanye West (who apparently joined up just to avoid being impersonated). You can read his expletive laden all-caps tirade at Twitter impersonators from last May here at TechCrunch (I can’t find it on his actual blog)…


Paul the father of “all publicity is good publicity”

From the PR point of view this idiom is pretty stupid. Some publicity is not good publicity, but in terms of establishing a brand you could argue that Paul fathered this idea in his letter to the Philippians, in chapter 1:18…

15Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

My five favourite posts about branding and PR from 2009

McDonalds takes “green” literally

I can’t tell if this is really dumb or reverse-subliminally brilliant…

McDonalds want to be considered a green company. So in Europe they’re changing their background colour from red to green.

Green is the new black. And the new red.

Rebranding God

The Jesus All About Life campaign is on in earnest – though it’s unlikely it’ll get much attention as far north as Townsville. Steve Kryger from Communicate Jesus had some insightful critiques of the campaign’s methodology. He copped a bit of flack for daring to stick his head up and say what anybody who thinks a bit about marketing (or works in the field) was already thinking.

My problem isn’t so much with the style of the campaign – I’ve got a problem with the substance.

I think we’re creating a generation of apathetic nominal Christians whose only knowledge of the Bible is John 3:16, and whose only knowledge of God is that he is loving. And all they have to do is “believe”.

I believe in lots of things that I don’t really care about, and if I use that understanding of the word and apply it to God, without reading the rest of the Bible then I can comfortably, and apathetically, rest assured that God and me are mates. And God is loving. So he’ll do right by me…

I don’t think there are many people stopping to think about what this loving God wants them to do with him past belief. And I don’t think “thank you Jesus for birds that look like they’re wearing pants” is the way to move people past that nominal point and into active Christian “belief” – that where thought is outworked, and where Jesus’ righteous place as Lord of our lives is realised.

Yes, God is loving. Yes, we do need to believe in him (as he actually is, not just that he is). But we need to move past that in our marketing campaigns – every marketing campaign needs a call to action. The call shouldn’t be “be thankful for…(whatever makes a nice postcard)” it should be something that enhances the understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

In our marketing at work part of what we’re aiming to do is “sell the sizzle, not the sausage” – which is what you do in a crowded marketplace like tourism where every customer already knows they’re looking for a holiday but haven’t necessarily chosen where. You can’t do this with Christianity. People need to better understand what goes in our sausage before we even try selling it.

UPDATE: Steve Kryger has posted some research that led the campaign in the direction it went in. It makes for interesting reading – basically the people behind the campaign found that people have negative thoughts about Christianity (particularly secular humanists) and they wanted to move away from “traditional” advertising…

“At a more fundamental level, non-Christians tend to reject the idea of ‘one truth’ as a divisive concept that is to blame for much of the conflict in the world today, and that clashes with the secular humanist ideal of taking personal responsibility for lifestyle choices and interpersonal values.”

I don’t get it. The gospel is no good because we can’t sell it?

I maintain my hypothesis that the gospel is less effective because we’ve spent so long selling it so badly. And pulling out the important bits in a bid to not be offensive (I guess reacting against the “turn or burn” fire and brimstone preachers of the previous generation) doesn’t seem to be a greatly effective strategy.

Cereal Offender

I love cereal. I eat it all the time. I think that cereal companies should be most upset that they’ve been pigeon-holed as “breakfast cereal”.

I don’t think trivial rebrands solve any problems, so I don’t understand the NRL’s pitch to change their logo in order to resurrect its credibility.

If a lobby group consisting of Kellogs, Sanitarium and other major cereal players was to form in a bid to rebrand their products as all day things I would totally understand that sort of thing. And support it.

I am eating a bowl of Fruit Loops as I write this.

That is all.