How Many Ministry Logos Should Your Church Have?

It’s unbelievable how quickly churches fragment their message. It’s easy for staff and volunteers the create stuff that feels good to them but is either completely unnecessary (at best) or clutters communication (at worst). Every day in America some new church ministry or program is creating some new, cute little visual to stuff into an already overpacked worship bulletin.

So the question we address today is “How many ministry logos should your church really have?” Here are the seven guidelines I use.

#1 Don’t create a sub-ministry logo until you have a vision-based brand for the entire church.

This guideline goes back to our branded house strategy. A church is a very finite, limited group of people. The most important idea at anytime for attenders of the church is the ONE singular reason for the church’s existence. What is the story? What is the big idea? What is the mission of the church that we want to keep before everybody all of the time? This should not only be clear, but clearly represented visually through the church’s primary logo and brand attributes. One of my most popular posts will provide more info and illustration: Top Ten Church Logos for Telling Story Through Design

If your church creates a sub-ministry logo without the “house” logo in place, it’s like sizing your curtains before the house’s blueprint is determined. We don’t know the size of the windows yet!  It just doesn’t make sense. You can’t even make a lucky guess. Don’t distract yourself from the prior work to be done. Don’t waste your resources.

Could the sub-ministry logo feel urgent and exciting to the leader of the ministry? Of course!  And is it possible that the leader of the ministry could care less about the overall church logo.  Of course! (And that’s the problem.) Unintentionally you would be reinforcing what we call a “lower room” identity—a program-based connection—rather than a vision-based, “upper room” identity.

In the end, church leadership must decide whether or not they will connect their people to the biggest idea and deepest calling of the church.

#2 Don’t create a sub-ministry logo until you have clear visual representation of  your strategy. The strategy icon will “transcend” the use of program-based logos.

The idea here is to lead with a compelling picture of how your church accomplishes its mission before you lead with program-based logos. Why? Because in the the end, programs don’t attract people; people attract people. To make the assimilation process in your church simple, easy and obvious, you have to clear the clutter and communicate strategically. Fire a rifle shot, not a shotgun blast. Here is an example from Faithbridge UMC in Houston, TX. The three main things you do at Faithbridge are: 1) attend worship, 2) participate in a grow group, and 3) engage a serve team. This is centered around a bridging lifestyle— being a bridge of faith to people everyday.

#3 The two most important logos after the church’s primary logo are children’s ministry and student ministry. These logos are most important for three reasons: 1) Birth through 12th grade ministries directly affects 25-45% of the church population. 2) Parents are quickly evaluating the safety and quality of offerings to children, and 3) These ministries create an additional way-finding experience, even for guests.

#4 Don’t create sub-ministry or program-based logos with complete disregard to the church’s overall brand and logo. Unfortunately, this rule is violated all of the time. The church overflows with random, disconnected creativity. A passionate leader creates new visual tools without realizing the disconnect. It’s like every room in a house has a distinct interior decorator who could care less about what the other rooms in the house look like. Therefore people never experience the family dynamic of unified vision, but rather, a bunch of folks doing separate things under one roof. I will admit, that this principle speaks to a nuance that even most church communicators have not been trained to understand.

What’s the solution? In a nutshell every sub-ministry “look and feel” should have a “design rational” that connects it to the “house brand.”

To educate yourself on this design competency, observe the sub-branded products in stores like Starbucks or the Apple Store. Designers take great effort to bring fresh initiatives or products with a design that still “fits” artistically under the overall brand.  For example, look at the distinct-but-connected design of the different roasts from the Starbucks website. Note how these images related to one another and the Starbucks master brand. (Don’t forget to study this dynamic in retail and online environments every day— free education for church communicators.)

Now let’s show an example of principle #3 and #4 for a church. When Sugar Creek Baptist Church asked us to design their brand, we also designed a children’s ministry and student ministry logo. In this case the design rational for the sub ministries was based on the logo font itself (Univers Ultra Condensed) The ministries added their own creativity. The children’s ministry added a softer secondary color palette and the beach ball element. The student ministry added a simple, and but unexpected typeface for the unique name “LYF.” The strategy icon image is also shown. Note how the colors for the student ministry are from the same color palette as the strategy icon.

#5 A guideline for adding a creatively distinct sub-ministry logo after children and student ministries, is one new logo for every thousand people in worship attendance. So a church of 400 in worship should not create additional sub-ministry logos than children and students. A church of 2,000 in attendance could have two additional sub-ministry logos. For example they could have the base three (church logo, children’s logo, and student’s logo) and a logo for life groups (first additional) and a logo for mission ministry (second additional).

#6  Ministries that will inevitably want a logo too early in the development of the church’s growth should use simple and similar font-based solutions based on the church’s brand. This practice requires a design-based font selection. For example with the MET Church, all adult ministries were given two fonts from which to build a type-face solution identity— see the Worship Arts ministry below. This enables a broader selection of ministries to be communicated without clutter, distraction and disconnection.

#7 One seasonal campaign-based logo is acceptable at any time in addition to the guidelines above, based on the church’s vision proper (seasonal goal or milestone). A campaign is another great opportunity to sub-brand. Again, the key is to “think outside the box, inside the brand.” That is, do fresh things, but keep them connected and related in a meaningful way to the overall brand. Also, keep it limited to one highly visible initiative at a time.

Below you will see the creative design of the “Big Give” campaign at the MET. Here we used a dramatic contrast of color while keeping it in the same strong, masculine color palette (blue rather than red and black) to carry the playful name of the campaign. The consistency came in using a huge dot to define the look, zooming in on the basic design element of a circle. The combination is creatively unique but totally consistent at the same time— and that’s what a sub-brand is all about.

On a side note, I am proud of the Auxano Design team who are true thought-leaders in helping churches navigate communications with unprecedented clarity and excellent. Without them it would be impossible to show you these examples.

Read more from Will.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Designing Style Guidelines for Brands and Websites

A website is never done. Everyone has worked on a project that changed so much after it launched that they no longer wanted it in their portfolio. One way to help those who take over your projects is to produce a style guide.

Edward Tufte once said: “Great design is not democratic; it comes from great designers. If the standard is lousy, then develop another standard.” Although there’s no stopping some clients from making their website awful, by creating a style guide, you’re effectively establishing rules for those who take over from you.

WHY CREATE A STYLE GUIDE?

  • You’ll have an easy guide to refer to when handing over the project.
  • Makes you look professional. They’ll know you did everything for a reason
  • You maintain control of the design. When someone does something awful, you can refer them to the document.
  • You avoid cheapening the design, message and branding.
  • Forces you to define and hone your style, making for a more cohesive design.

(Smashing’s note: If you are looking for a good book on mobile, this is the one. Our brand new book on best design and coding practices for mobile, Responsive Web design and UX design for mobile. Get your copy now!)

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Branding Guidelines: What To Include?

STRATEGIC BRAND OVERVIEW

This should be short and sweet. In as few words as possible, make clear the vision for this design and any keywords people should keep in mind while designing. Most people will probably flip straight to the picture pages, but they may read a few sentences here.


See Kew’s branding guidelines.

Kew uses strong photography in its “brand essence” message, with a few paragraphs that both inspire and define the brand. Even if you read only the first sentence, you get a sense of what it’s trying to do. While Kew has quite a few of these message pages, they are intertwined with beautiful photography that themselves define the photographic style and primary message.

LOGOS

For print and Web, most brands revolve around the logo. Make sure you provide logo variations and clarify minimum sizes.


See Cunard’s branding guidelines.

Cunard provides many variations on its minimum sizes. Because its crest can be displayed either on its own, with the name or with the tagline, specifying minimum sizes is important for legibility (for example, if the logo with the tagline is too small, it will be illegible).


See Think Brick’s branding guidelines.

Provide logos with different colors, and specify which colours are allowed. Think Brick gives designers a lot of options with its design. The point is to allow flexibility while maintaining consistency.

SHOW EXAMPLES OF WHAT AND WHAT NOT TO DO

You’re a professional, and you know better than to mess around with logos. But many others will try and think they’ve done a good job. They are so wrong. You must make clear what they can and cannot do with a design.


See I Love New York’s branding guidelines.

I Love New York has done a great job defining all the things you shouldn’t do with its logo. It has also produced a beautiful (though bit wordy) document.

SPACING

Many non-designers underestimate the need for white space. Include a spacing reference, especially for the logo. Rather than specifying inches or centimeters, use a portion of the logo (a letter or a shape) to set the clearance. This way, whether the logo is big or small, the space around it will be sufficient.


See BlackBerry’s branding guidelines (PDF, 2.2 MB).

BlackBerry not only explains its spacing policy, but also uses the capital B in the logo to define the clearance.

COLORS

Always include color palettes and what the colors should be used for. And include formats for both print and Web: CMYK, Pantones (if they exist) and RGB (or HEX). Always include a CMYK alternative for Pantones because sometimes matching is hard (especially when Pantone printing is not possible). Specify primary and secondary colours and when and where to use them.


See Channel 4s style guide.

Channel 4 shows all of its Web and print colors, and it displays the swatches below an image that helps to define its color palette.


See the New School’s branding guidelines.

The New School is clear about its primary colors and defines them for both print (Pantone and CMYK) and Web (RGB). Its brand guideline document is beautiful, too.


See Christopher Doyle’s Personal Identity Guidelines.

Okay, so this one isn’t a traditional branding guideline, but rather a personal identity guideline. Here Christopher Doyle shows off some alternative color palettes. He does a fantastic job of mocking branding guidelines; well worth a look (and chuckle).

FONTS

You’ll need to define the typefaces to use: sizes, line height, spacing before and after, colors, headline versus body font, etc. Make sure to include Web alternatives for non-Web fonts.


See Yale’s typeface.

Yale has its own typeface, which it provides to its designers.


See Yale’s Visual Identity page.

On the typeface section of its website, Yale also details when fonts should be used. It has a specific Web font section, detailing which fonts to use there.

LAYOUTS AND GRIDS

By setting up templates and guidelines for grids, you encourage best practices and promote consistency. In Web, preparing some generic templates can curb excessive creativity with the layout.


See the Barbican’s branding, print and Web guidelines.

For its website, the Barbican has set up building blocks that are both flexible and ordered—meaning they’re likely to remain in a grid.

TONE OF VOICE

A huge component of a brand’s personality is the copy, and defining the tone is a great way to keep a brand consistent. When multiple people are writing the copy, the brand can start to sound like it has multiple personalities.


See easyJet’s branding guidelines (PDF, 2 MB).

easyJet has a well-defined personality, both verbal and written, and it gives examples for both.

COPY-WRITING GUIDE

For those who require clients to write their own copy but want to maintain consistency, a copy-writing style guide can be helpful. Copy-writing is one of those things that most people register subconsciously. When reading, your brain automatically looks for consistency and patterns, and poor copy-writing can ruin the reading flow.


See CAN’s branding guidelines (PDF, 845 KB).

CAN wants its number formats to look the same. On another page, it defines which spelling variants to use, reminds people of common mistakes and more.

IMAGERY

Many designers have established a particular tone in their photographs and images. Show your clients examples, and explain why they are good choices. Show them in the context of your design, and explain why they were chosen for that context.


See Zopa’s style sheet (PDF, 3.7 MB).

Zopa has done a fantastic job of making its illustrated style clear. Its online style guide is very good, and it offers further tips on how to construct pages around its illustrations in the online style sheet.

BRING IT ALL TOGETHER

Show a few examples of what the logo, photography and text look like together and the preferred formats.


See Skype’s branding guidelines.

Skype has done a fantastic job of showing how it want designers to use its illustrations and photography. It has examples of the subtle differences between good and bad usage. The whole guide is beautiful and well worth a look.

Web Guidelines: What To Include?

Many people create branding guidelines but forget to include important style guides for the Web. Just like branding guidelines, Web guidelines keep everything consistent, from button styles to navigation structure.

BUTTON HIERARCHY

You’ve carefully decided what all the buttons are for and meticulously defined their states. Unfortunately, the in-house designer hasn’t applied your hover states or has created their own, and they look terrible.

Create a page that shows what all links do (including the buttons), the appropriate behavior of each and when to use them (with examples of appropriate usage). If one button is dominant, make clear the maximum number of times it should be used per page (usually once at most). Define the hover, disabled and visited states for all buttons.


Gumtree.

Gumtree has worked hard to define all button states, especially custom buttons (for example, Post an Ad has a + sign in front of it). These were defined for the Gumtree redesign, which is now live.

ICONS

Defining size and spacing and where to use icons is another great way to promote consistency. If icons should be used only sparingly, make this clear.


See ZURB’s icon sizes.

Here, the ZURB agency defines icon sizes and when to use them, and it provides clients with an online source from which to download them. ZURB also defines badges and explains their purpose. It believes that its guidelines are best shared online.

NAVIGATION (LOGGED IN/OUT STATES)

On the Web, good consistent navigation can make or break a website. New pages are often added to a website after the designer is done with it. Have you left some space for this? Doing things like letting people know what to do with new navigation items and showing logged-in states make for a cleaner website.


See the BBC’s Global Experience Language.

This is one of the most beautiful guidelines I’ve seen. BBC shows what to do with long user names, how much space everything should have and more.

BASIC CODING GUIDELINES

There’s no way to make someone else code like you, but you can offer others basic guidelines that will minimize the damage, such as:

  • CSS class naming conventions
    Should they use .camelCase or .words-with-dashes?
  • JavaScript integration
    Are you using jQuery? MooTools? How should new JavaScript be integrated?
  • Form styling
    Include the code, error states and more so that they understand what style conventions you expect.
  • Doc type and validation requirements
    Do you allow certain invalid items? Do you expect the CSS and HTML to validate?
  • Directory structure
    Make clear how you have organized it.
  • Accessibility standards
    Should people include alt tags? Is image replacement used for non-standard fonts?
  • Testing methods
    Which standard should they test with? Do you have staging and production websites?
  • Version control
    What system are you using? How should they check in new code?

How To Format

Some branding guidelines have been turned into beautiful books:


See the Truth brand guidelines.

This beautiful example, which was designed to go with a brand redesign, shows just how beautiful branding guidelines can be.

But this requires a substantial budget and a reprint every so often. For most companies with tight budgets, this is not practical. On the Web especially, content is constantly being refined and styles for elements are not set in stone.

Here are a few good practices for formatting your guidelines:

  • Include a cover
    This should include an example of best practices for the logo.
  • Make it beautiful
    Even if it won’t be printed as a book, you can still make sure the branding guidelines appeal to the viewer. After all, you’re trying to inspire them to use your designs to the highest standards!
  • Include contact details
    For when they have questions, so that you can prevent bad decisions from being made.
  • Make it easy to access and open
    Usually this means putting it online or in PDF format. Don’t make it too big; use images sparingly.
  • Make it printable
    For international companies especially, keep margins big so that the document can be printed in both A4 and US letter sizes. If it’s online, make sure your print style sheets render the document as expected. Don’t do white text on a black background, either: you don’t want the client to have to buy a new ink cartridge every time they print a copy.
  • Make it easy to change
    Updating, adding new pages and making changes should be easy, because it will happen!
  • Create a mini version
    Make a short handy guide that has just the basics, in addition to the full version. Both will get used in different instances.
  • Provide print templates whenever possible
    Things like letterheads, business cards and envelops should have their own templates. While guidelines will help people put things in the right spot, they usually won’t help them get the right resolution or color format.


Here’s a useful template for a one-page branding guideline.

LENGTH

Remember, people should be able to follow branding guidelines. A 100-page book will engage none but the most diligent designer. Many believe that a concise three-page overview is best for daily use, with a more in-depth 20-page document for more complex tasks. Less is more, usually!


See the BBC’s branding guidelines and poster.

The BBC has created a detailed 38-page guideline. But it has also produced a beautiful poster for quick reference. It’s a brilliant idea, and it keeps the guidelines at the front of mind.

Resources

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kat Neville

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.