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February 2009

Posts from January 2009

Branding - Coke, Pepsi and Church

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 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:

Find more videos like this on AdGabber

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.

What To Do With Sunday Nights?

When I was growing up, we were at the church every time the doors were open.  I remember that Sunday mornings were for Sunday School and Worship.  Everything began at BST (Baptist Standard Time - 9:45 for Sunday School and 11am for worship.)  Then, on Sunday evenings, we were back at church at 5pm for Discipleship Training, RAs, GAs, choir or some other activity, then another worship service.

Of course, as you know, times have changed.  Sunday nights have become a "what do you do with that night" on the calendar for most churches.  Some still have worship and are running the same schedule as they did in the 1960s.  You know "If is was good enough for us back then, it's good enough for us now."  I say "More power to you," but I don't think the Sunday night schedule "soapbox" is somewhere I want to stand.

Even 10 to 15 years ago, we struggled with Sunday night attendance.  There was that pressure to have a crowd every time we met, even if the crowd was the same group that had just been there a few hours earlier in the day.

When I get together with other pastors, this has become one of the most asked questions.  "What are you doing on Sunday nights?"  In a group of ten pastors, there are usually one or two who are adamant about having their Sunday evening services.  The vast majority have found that attendance has dropped considerably in recent years, there is a struggle among planners on what to do, what needs to be done and of course how to schedule it.

Every now and then someone will come to me and say "A lot of people are upset because they want a Sunday evening service."  I've discovered that "a lot of people" could be five or six.  Sometimes it's more, but that term is pretty unclear.  To be honest, there must not be "a lot of people" wanting this in that when we met regularly on Sunday evenings, the crowd was anything but "a lot."  Someone even said once "We need to vote on whether to meet or not."  I responded, "I think the people already voted by not showing up."

So, we end up with a quandary.  What to do?

For those who receive my weekly emails, you know that I feel God leading us to a very simple Sunday evening schedule for this year.  There are Sundays where we have special events (i.e. concerts, fellowship meetings, etc.) For those Sundays where there are no special events, we are going to have another type of special event.  We will gather at 6pm and stay until 8pm in the Worship Center.  Beginning at 6pm, we will have someone designated to read the Bible aloud.  There will be no commentary, music, program, etc.  Just the Bible.  We'll begin in Genesis 1:1 and continue through the entire Bible until we, as a church complete the reading.  It may take a year or longer.  Can you imagine the power in this?  To read the entire Bible aloud as a church family.  Wow!

I encourage everyone to attend.  At 6:45pm, we'll take a 15 minute break for prayer and continue at 7pm.  Even if you cannot stay the entire two hours, come for just part of the time.  Be sure to check the Sunday worship bulletin for the schedule. We'll kick this off the last Sunday evening in January.

Sunday nights just may be a time where revival is sparked.