The following post was written by Chris Swain, Director of Lifeway Students Publishing
There are as many opinions about how to brand your student ministry, as there are student ministers. The vast number of approaches one can take in this process underscores its critical nature. Whether picking a Scripture passage to define the ministry or simply coming up with a hip name, the strategies vary. Regardless of the approach, however, there are five key elements to consider when branding your student ministry.
Prioritize your ministry goals and strategy. When developing a brand for your ministry it can be easy to gravitate toward a cool concept you hear about but you’ll need to be more strategic than that. I was once part of a ministry branding project in which we decided on the brand, “24-7 Student Ministry.” We used Jeremiah 24:7 as our verse and created a logo we thought looked cool. The problem was 24-7 didn’t really mean anything. The verse talks about giving people a heart to know God – which is nice – but doesn’t really resonate with any actionable strategy or ministry plan. The result was that most of our students thought our brand meant we were open all the time. We constantly had to teach our people what the brand was about and how it connected to ministry. This kind of branding is backwards. We should have broken down our ministry strategy and developed a brand from there. Instead we were frustrated that our students didn’t understand our brand. Allow your ministry goals and strategy to drive your search for a brand.
Simplicity is Powerful. When students see and hear your brand are they able to have a quick and powerful idea of what your ministry is about? The best brands don’t require a ton of explanation. Often the best choice for your brand is simply: Community Church Student Ministry. Before you claim that this brand is unimaginative and bland, think about the benefits of such a clear brand:
- Everyone instantly knows it is a church ministry
- They know which church your ministry is at
- They know it is for students
Catchy names and slogans can help and there is nothing wrong with being more creative in the branding process but keep simplicity in mind when determining the best brand for your ministry.
Think Story vs Programming. Often student ministries brand based upon the worship experience and the rest of ministry is left out. Likewise, the programming might drive the way the rest of the ministry looks and feels when a brand is selected this way. A better way to determine the best brand is to ask yourself what the story is that you want to tell. Is your student ministry about connecting the community? Is it about loving others? Is it about reaching the lost for Christ? Let your story drive the branding process. When students are able to connect your brand to the story you are trying to tell it will resonate stronger in their minds and hearts. Of course, the story we are all trying to tell is Christ’s story, but how your ministry accomplishes that should be reflected in your brand.
Tie the Brand to Every Aspect of the Ministry. When you develop your brand don’t limit it to one area of ministry. Don’t name your mid-week student worship service and then make that your brand. Your brand should be applicable to your whole ministry. The best brands are able to make connections between all of the moving parts of the ministry and show how they connect to the greater story. Don’t limit your brand.
Timeless is Better than Hip. While certain slogans and meme’s might be popular when your selecting your brand, try to think beyond what’s currently hip. I still remember being a part of “Power Jam” Student Ministry. I’ll bet you can name the era that brand was created in. Think of themes that are timeless for your ministry and your brand will be stronger.
Keep in mind that a strong brand can help your student ministry. While branding certainly shouldn’t take precedent over simply being the body of Christ, it can help communicate what your ministry is all about. If you decide to brand your student ministry, apply the five keys and develop a brand that helps the community understand who you are and what your about.