If your church has been around for a while, chances are your brand has already been established in the minds of your congregation and community. It’s the unique personality of your church that’s been shaped by every print piece, sermon, Facebook post and every other interaction. So how do you turn this into something tangible to keep you communicating on the right path? A brand style guide could be the answer.
What Is a Brand Style Guide?
A brand style guide creates a set of standards based on all the things your church is doing well in communicating who you are. It simply gives structure to how to communicate the brand consistently. And consistency is necessary in order to communicate with excellence.
Practically, the brand style guide will be used as a reference by other staff members and volunteers when creating communication for their ministry or the church as a whole. If the missions team wants to send out a postcard, what logo should they use? Can the women’s ministry change the font in the logo to be more feminine for the banner they are printing? The brand style guide should address these issues.
What Should It Include?
A comprehensive style guide can be as lengthy as a small novel, but don’t let that scare you. A one-page reference sheet is better than nothing. The key is just to get started. Here are some things you can consider including:
- Brand overview, tagline and key messages
- Logo usage
- Other visual elements
- Writing guidelines & editorial guide (we’ve covered how to create an editorial style guide)
- Web standards
- Ministry sub-brands
- Color palettes
- Photography usage
- Your communications process
To help you get an idea of other things you can add, take a look at some of these corporate style guides. Many of the items included in these are applicable for churches as well.
How Do I Get Started?
Starting from scratch can easily become an overwhelming task. Consider beginning with a one-page document and taking on the rest in stages. First, put the brand into words. What are the values you’re trying to communicate? What are some key words that describe your church? Condense these ideas into a paragraph. Anything you produce should align with these statements.
Then move on to the visual. Even if your church has an awful logo or maybe no logo at all, begin to establish standards for how to communicate your church’s brand visually. You’ll probably realize that you already have guidelines in place, they’ve just never been written down. Address what logo to use and when to use it, and what colors are acceptable. Don’t have a logo and just using text? Then, specify what typeface to use. Including some examples of incorrect logo usage can be helpful too.
A brand style guide can be an ever-evolving document that changes as your church grows. It should be as unique as your church, and ultimately help your church as a whole communicate the same message in a consistent voice. Here are a couple examples of fairly simple church brand style guides for inspiration: West Ridge (PDF) & Whitewater Crossing (PDF)
Always using the correct logo in the proper colors, or understanding why the church should use one font over a dozen others is often not something people think about. There may only be a few staff members at your church who see the importance of adhering to communication standards. Having a brand standards guide can help establish legitimacy to something that many feel is irrelevant, but most importantly it can help to get everyone communicating on the same page and working toward the same common goal—representing the church with excellence.