3 easy steps to overbrand your church programs

Over-branding in your church is a serious deception. It seems fun or slick or enjoyable to brand your Wednesday night service as “Mid-week Recharge” or brand your youth service with an acronym like “Bibles And Radical Fellowship” (BARF) or your parenting class as “Mothers And Fathers In Action” (MAFIA).

20 years ago, this caught on as a cool idea. A lot of people came to church during the week as a social event, to fill their evenings or to nap in the back row while their kids threw water balloons in the parking lot.

If you told them you’re having an event called “Sunrise and SonShine” they could easily take in what you’re telling them and learn the name. You had their attention – without a phone in their hand…

Fast forward to 2018.

We are getting bombarded with more messages that we can count on a daily basis, while browsing social media, driving, listening to the radio and trying to narrow down our Starbucks order to less than 4 sentences. In today’s world, saying “Saturday morning breakfast” or “First Friday of the month worship night” or “Hope Church Youth” is the best way to communicate your message without having to cut through the noise and explain what your acronym or cute title stands for.

In 2018, having a ANOTHER cute title doesn’t make something memorable – it actually makes it more difficult to remember.

You’re telling them, “Remember a ‘cute’ name AND remember what the event is actually about.”  Your church is the brand. Everything else can happen under that umbrella. Choose a name that describes the event.

Consider one of the most recognizable brands in our world: McDonald’s.

Back in the day, they branded their signature burger a Big Mac, and it stuck. Now, virtually everything else on their menu is a self-describing title: Double Quarter pounder with cheese, chicken nuggets, filet-o-fish. If one of the largest, most broadly-recognized brands in our world is going that simple, why does your church need a code word for every meeting room, classroom, small group and mid-week service?


How does this make a new person feel?

Would you feel included or excluded if you didn’t understand the code words at a new church? Would this make you feel like part of the family, or an outsider looking in?


However, if you insist, here are 3 options to confuse people with overbranding.


Option 1: Create an Acronym that’s just a bunch of random letters

This is a double whammy for confusion. Not only are you going to give people an event to remember topped off with a cute name, you’re also going to give them an acronym so they have to try and remember the acronym, then remember what it stands for, then remember what THAT stands for.

“Join us for GRBSP every Monday at 7pm. That’s our Grandparents reading bible stories to preschoolers.”


Option 2: Create an acronym with a completely unrelated real word…

Just choose a bunch of words that start with the right letters, even if they don’t describe your event at all.

“We’ve got a new event called LIGHT – That’s Ladies In Generations Holding Time. Come be part of that on Wednesday morning.”

Or what about choosing words that ACTUALLY describe your event, but form a less-than-desirable acronym:

“Learn more about the Bible every week at our Interactive Bible Study: IBS”


Option 3: Pick a word that only makes sense once its explained

We’re going to call our junior youth “On-Ramp” like getting on life’s highway. We’re going to call our ladies bible study group “Purpose”. In a stand-alone way, you may consider these explainable (and I’ve heard the argument “If anyone asks, it’s easy to explain,”) but considering you have 23 small groups, 3 youth brackets, a bible name for every room in your facility, a unique branding for your midweek service and morning prayer, then all-in-all, this is the perfect storm of confusion.


For the boring church people:

So if you want to be boring, err on the side of clarity and not confuse new visitors to your church, you could just call events and groups within your church what they really are:

  • Ladies Bible Study
  • Midweek Service
  • Tuesday morning prayer
  • Example Church Youth
  • Example Church 20 something
  • Saturday morning breakfast
  • Invite-A-Friend Carnival

Be boring enough to let the name of the event or group perfectly explain the purpose. It doesn’t need it’s own logo, theme song, and catchy title. In this case, boring wins.




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By Adam McLaughlin

Adam loves helping churches and businesses discover marketing ideas that are consistent with their values, loves coke slurpees from 7-11 and would love to speak at your conference or event!

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