American marketing is hugely about branding. We all know what branding is, whether we realize it or not. When you see golden arches - we know it's McDonald's. When you see a swoosh, it's obviously a Nike ad. People become comfortable with brands. When a corporation changes it's logo, or brand, it affect people. No joke. You wouldn't think it to be that big a deal, but apparently, it is.
Late last year, Pepsi announced it was rebranding it's products. This has resulted in a new Pepsi logo, with "smiles" in the logo, as Pepsico explains. Their major drink products are all be redesigned. Mountain Dew is now known as Mtn Dew. Sierra Mist has a new logo. Even Tropicana Orange Juice and Gatorade are being repackaged.
Millions of dollars are spent annually to entice consumers to purchase product A over product B. Most of us remember the "Cola Wars" of the 1980s that had Pepsi doing taste challenges in shopping malls and Coke reacting by shelving their old formula for a new "Pepsi-like" flavor. The "New Coke" was a flop and when Coca-Cola reintroduced their "Original Formula" sales went up again.
The new Pepsi launch is getting much negative publicity. Website www.underconsideration.com blogs about branding and new logos and their effectiveness.
Here are the new Pepsi logos. . .
Here's a video promoting their new logos. This clip was distributed on DVD to large clients:
Then, you can scroll through the site and find Coca-Cola's new bottle and logo. Here it is. . .
The old one is on the left, the new one on the right. What a radical change, right? Apparently, Coke and Pepsi are taking different paths on branding in the new century. Of course, just give it time. If one does better than the other in the short term, the other company will react (notice I didn't say respond) by changing things as well.
What does this have to do with church? Well, branding of churches and ministries are also huge. In talking with web design teams for churches and ministries, it is clear they do not see their competition as other churches and ministries, but corporations such as Starbucks, Pepsi, Toyota, etc. that market well.
Even our church has a brand. It began as an image of the round windows on our Worship Center. When we opened our Worship Center on Kingsley in 1995, the new church brand was introduced. The letter "O" in the word Orange Park, was a respresentation of the window. Over time, the logo, or brand shifted to a format that looked as if it was painted quickly, then to the one that looked a little like tie-dye. Following September 11, the color scheme changed to red and blue. Upon opening our new campus at Swimming Pen Creek, the color scheme was adjusted to the current rusty brown and blue colors with the new font and the emphasis on "Orange Park" as we strive to become the church for the entire community.
The thing about branding is it can give people a feeling of comfort. Regardless where you buy a Coke, throughout the world, the red can and white "dynamic ribbon" as it's called, is there. It can bring comfort to an international traveller missing home.
The church logo can also bring about a continuity and express the strong belief we have in our God, the importance of the cross and our call to the entire community or world by God to reach people.
Still, as with Coke or Pepsi, once you buy the product or have the can or bottle in hand, the real test is the taste of the product within. Same with church. The facade can look great, but what's on the inside? Are we a church that says we believe the Great Commission and Great Commandment or one that lives it out? As I stated last Sunday evening, we have to be a church that shows grace, not just preaches it.
I'm excited about the series coming up in February, titled "No Perfect People Allowed." It will be a look at the life of Paul and how we can relate to this imperfect man who was used by our perfect God to bring Him (God) glory. We're all imperfect. We know this. Yet, God can still use us. Just make sure we carry "God's brand" on our heart.