Ron Sellers writes in The Clergy Journal about the "brand loyalty" problem facing mainline churches:
While 67 percent of churchgoing Protestants have a specific denominational preference, 70 percent have a preferred soft drink brand, 64 percent have a preferred brand of grocery store, 64 percent have a preferred brand of toothpaste, and 64 percent have a preferred brand of vehicle.
While 14 percent of Protestants are totally loyal to only one denomination, 22 percent are totally loyal to one brand of toothpaste, 19 percent to one brand of bathroom tissue,
and 16 percent to one brand of pain reliever.
In other words, if your congregation represents the typical church:
• more of the people in your pews are totally loyal to a
brand of toothpaste than to your denomination;
• one-third of the people joining you for worship on
Sunday morning have no specific loyalty at all to your
• 84 percent would be willing to consider switching
What to do?
... It’s time to brush up on your branding acumen. Think about brands that have a clear identity. An example might be Volvo, which for years has stood for safety. The company didn’t develop that overnight– it took years of intentional communication, focus, and actual performance to develop that brand reputation.
They didn’t do it with a neat logo and a catchy slogan, any more than you developed your own reputation in the congregation by showing up with a particularly nice haircut one weekend.
Growing denominational awareness and loyalty within the congregation is not the same thing as selling televisions or mouthwash, but it does have many common elements. Both require:
• understanding what your audience believes, feels, and thinks right now;
• understanding what makes your “brand” different from others;
• understanding how and why the organization can make a difference to members and affect their lives;
• making a conscious, consistent effort to build the brand; and
• clearly, concisely, and repeatedly communicating the distinctives to your audience in a way that is relevant to them.