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Branding the Church, Part 2: A Logo Development Case Study

My interest in church branding comes less from an intentional pursuit of the subject matter and more because God continues to place me in situation where I get to help a church think through its brand and how to visually depict that brand. In the first post, I outlined two key principles involved with branding. The piece of the branding process that people are most interested is the logo. It’s a visible, tangible product.

In this post, I will provide a case study of one church that I served and the logo progression. But we must start here: Developing a logo is about capturing the church’s message in the graphical formation. The message can – must – precede the logo. Let me depict through the presentation of 3 logos that have been / are used by my former church the progression of that message.

As a reference, the church’s stated mission is “training and deploying risk-taking disciples into their mission field.” With each logo, I will make some short commentary on the logo as a depiction of the stated mission (the message the logo should proclaim).

Logo 1: This was the original logo of the church including the full name of the church, a full tag line and three distinct Christian icons. Now for the commentary. This was a useful logo, but, in short, too busy. There is so much going on (Cross, Bible and crown!  That is a lot of Christian symbols!). But it is the inclusion of the tagline that I would like to highlight here. It reads, “Discover the lasting solution for lasting peace.” That tagline is a powerful message, but disconnected from the mission of deploying disciples on mission.

Logo 2: This next iteration of the logo is greatly simplified. It took away a lot of the busyness. The challenge here is that there was nothing distinctive about it at all. Other than having a cross, there was nothing that would portray the church’s message in any unique way. To be fair, moving to this logo was intentionally a stopgap measure until a longer term plan could be developed.

Logo 3: There is much that could be said about this logo from its boldness to its clarity to its simplicity. But I especially want to highlight the message of the logo. As the church clarified its message, three elements became important in the strategy of the church: worship of Christ, growing disciples and mission. Each of those three was intentionally included in the logo. Worship: The top right corner of the logo is a sunburst to depict him who is the light of the world (John 8:12). Discipleship: Notice that the “G” is bursting out of the borders, intended to depict how God’s people grow as disciples. Mission: Layered behind the “G” is a half sphere so that the world is always in perspective.

Conclusion: What makes this progression noteworthy is not the improved graphic sensibility (which I think is quite drastic!), but the clarity with which the church’s message is portrayed. Logos are highly visible elements in the branding process. They are not, however, stand-alone. They are designed to send a message. Clarifying the message becomes the framework for developing a logo.

Recommended Vendors: I have had the privilege of working with some great Christian branding experts.

  • The Branding Shed – James Dalman is the artist who designed the new logo for Glasgow Church as depicted here. We had done the hard work of defining what we wanted (Worship, Discipleship, Mission). James developed the visual depiction of that message.
  • Aspire!One – Aspire!One’s specialty is helping church’s think through the strategy – that is, formulating the message – and then put it all together in a brand strategy. If you need help formulating your message, the team at Aspire!One is great. I’m looking to tap some of their expertise at my current church in the near future.

3 Responses

  1. It’s an interesting case study. However, all of those key elements that you pointed out for logo #3 are completely masked to anyone but the creative designer. No one can even notice the slight nuances in the background behind and above the G. So, while the simplicity and clarity are improvements, I don’t think that the third one is necessarily communicating anything other than: “Glasgow Church.”

    Maybe there will be a fourth logo to come??? (any plans?)

    • Well, to answer your question, no, there are no plans for anything more. This is the final logo and I, personally, am now serving a new church, so anything more on that front will be beyond me.

      The meaning of the sunburst and G growing out of the borders may not be immediately understandable, but I do think that the world in the background is clear. In the design process, everyone saw that element. However, let me suggest that it may be ok that not all the meaning is immediately recognizable without explanation. Once you see those things, you will never unsee them.

      Example: Look at the FedEx logo. Have you ever noticed the arrow in the logo? Look at it again: specifically the white space between the “E” and the “x.” Cool, right? And yet, until someone points the arrow out to you, you never notice it. But once you see it, you can never unsee it.

      • Good point (pun intended :). You’re right about the FedEx logo. Once you know it’s there you always think about it when you see the logo. Thx,

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