In the fall of 2018, my 55-year-old Southern Baptist church worked with ArtSpeak Creative to rebrand from “First Baptist Church of Harvester” to “Waypoint Church.” To say we were unfamiliar with launching a new brand would be an understatement (half a century with the same name will do that to you).
We landed on Waypoint Church as our new name — that was the hard part. We just needed the right creative agency to give our new name a voice and a face: messaging, logo, brand guide, and website. With the right agency, that would be the easy part.
It was getting our new brand out there that made us nervous.
Should we do billboards? Radio spots? Facebook ads? TV commercials?
We were overwhelmed with the marketing options. And frankly, as a budding Communications Director, I didn’t really know which marketing channels would give us the best ROI. I had never launched a new brand before.
Despite our inexperience with launching a brand, we avoided “paralysis by analysis” by focusing on what we did know: equipping our people to reach other people.
And in the end, it made all the difference.
“Ok, our new branding is done! Now what…?”
The challenges of brand creation are markedly different from the challenges of brand promotion. If you’re the kind of leader that loves the creative process of developing a new brand — the ideation, mood boards, logo mockups, color palettes — then you might also be the kind of leader that loathes the prospect of having to tell everyone about it. I know I was at first.
I learned that brand creation is to brand promotion as designing a rocket is to launch it into space.
But if you’re nervous about getting that rocket off the ground, you shouldn’t be. That’s because your church already has the “fuel” that most new businesses and brands spend decades building: passionate people.
The people in your congregation are the single most important factor for a successful brand launch. No amount of advertising to strangers will have the impact of passionate people sharing their church’s new brand.
Here are 5 ways Waypoint Church leveraged a people-centered strategy to successfully launch our new brand.
1.) Clarify the “why” behind a launch.
Whether you’re a new church launching your first brand or you’re a 55-year-old church launching a rebrand, the most important thing you can do is to make sure that the people helping you launch it know why you’re choosing to “launch” in the first place.
If you sense that the term “launch” feels overly marketing-y to the folks in your congregation, it’s helpful to reframe your brand launch in the context of planting a new church or opening a new campus.
Launching your new brand is essentially an opportunity for your church to let your community know that “we’re here!” It’s an opportunity to (re)establish a presence. And that’s the Great Commission, isn’t it? To go and bring the presence of Jesus to a community? That’s what you’re launching. You are sending up a signal flare that says, “We are here for you!”
We’ve seen other pastors successfully calibrate their people to this perspective using sermons, all-church meetings, and vision videos. Once your people understand the why behind your launch, mobilizing them for a Launch Day goes from a chore to a cheer.
2.) Pick one day to launch.
Once you’ve got your people cheering, it’s time to pick a Launch Day! Although the branding process has taken you many months and your ongoing promotional strategy will take many more, choosing a singular moment to make a splash is the key to mobilizing the most people for your promotion.
When we were planning our brand launch at Waypoint, we wondered if rolling it out over the course of a month would be best. We figured we could take a few Sundays to revisit all of the reasons for changing our name and remind our folks of the new audiences we were trying to reach.
But we realized that at this point in the process, our weeks-long vision casting had already happened. We already had buy-in from our church. So picking one day to launch our brand prevented us from losing momentum by retreading old ground.
And it made things so much simpler—both for our staff and our people.
If you pick one day to launch, there won’t be five different dates for your folks to jot down. There won’t be an overwhelming list of ways they can help you launch. The message of a Launch Day is simple: “show up on August 1 and we’ll give you everything you need to help us promote our new brand!”
Remember: Your people are the rocket fuel behind your promotion. So make it easy for them to help!
3.) Invest in a “pride of ownership” strategy.
Once you’ve picked your Launch Day, the next step is to develop your “day-of” strategy.
Ask yourself the question: “Now that we have all of these people here, how do we equip them to reach people with our new brand?”
Your first goal for mobilizing them should be getting them excited about being there! Your Launch Day should feel like a party. Set the tone with music and decorations. Create opportunities for mingling and participation.
If you’re launching on a Sunday, this may look like giving your typical service liturgy a week off. Get them out of the seats and walking around. Use their movement and interaction to create a buzz in the building.
Your second goal: Give them high-quality, free merchandise featuring your new brand. Only choose merch they’d be proud to own and show off to others. Remember, we’re choosing to invest in our people as the main promotional force for our new brand, not ads or billboards.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is it about something that makes me proud to own it?
- What’s something that I could use every day?
- What’s an item that I would be shocked to get for free?
Use the answers to those three questions to begin building a Launch Day “giveaway bag” that everyone will receive when they walk in. It is so important not to penny-pinch here!
Quality, not quantity. Premium shirts, not cheap pens. Brand-name water bottles, not bumper stickers.
If you invest in things that people will be proud to own and show off to others, your brand will spread through your community like wildfire.
4.) Double-dip digitally.
The good news about earmarking the majority of your Launch Day budget for giveaways is that most digital strategies for promotion are completely free to implement.
And what are the top three free digital marketing channels for promotion?
Social media, social media, and social media.
Encourage everyone attending your Launch Day to take some selfies with their new merch, post them with some branded hashtags (we went with #wearewaypoint), and @ mention your church’s page in their post. Having hundreds of posts flood the feeds with those three basic elements will go a long way for your launch.
Yes, using free social media apps to promote the day seems obvious. But what about the digital layer underneath that promotion?
If you’re a new church, the chances are that your building isn’t findable on popular online location services like Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Yelp. Or even if your building has been findable for years on Google Maps as “First Baptist Church Harvester,” how do you get that map pin to change to “Waypoint Church”?
The answer is “geolocation validation.”
Think about all of the foot traffic your location will receive on Launch Day. While your people are posting pictures of themselves in their new shirts to Facebook and Instagram, have them geo-tag their posts with your church’s pin to help verify your new location.
If hundreds of people use their mobile phones to validate that their current location and your church’s location overlap, then Google’s algorithms will believe them.
(There are a few additional behind-the-scenes steps to take before you can leverage geolocation validation, but we can help with that.)
Understanding the power of social media and leveraging its ubiquitous use for geolocation validation is the secret sauce to a successful digital launch of your new brand.
5.) Capture & retell stories.
The last piece of the brand launch puzzle is capturing stories.
While your people are taking pictures of their own for social media and posting videos of themselves in their new swag, make sure you have at least one person with a high-quality camera taking pictures of the event, too. Bonus points if you can have a videographer walking around grabbing b-roll and quick interviews with folks, as well.
These pictures and videos will not only capture the excitement of the Launch Day, but they’ll also act as an energy source to dip back into for future messaging — even if it’s entirely unrelated to your Launch Day.
Need to create a branded social media post for a Facebook ad? Use a picture of people wearing the shirts you gave away.
Need a header image for the Guest page on your website? There were a ton of people smiling at the Launch Day—use one of those!
Want to remind your people of the vision behind your rebrand? Share one of the interviews you captured on Launch Day in one of your Sunday services.
And even if you don’t have fancy DSLRs or video cameras, tell your staff to capture Launch Day stories with conversation. No one will know how meaningful your Launch Day was to those in attendance unless you seek that meaning out.
Capture, tell, celebrate, retell, encourage. Your people need it.
Bonus: Encourage your team to try new things.
Although a Launch Day is good practice for harnessing the passion of your people, it’s also an opportunity to empower members of your team to try new things.
While Waypoint was planning out our Launch Day activities, we saw staff members ask to lead aspects of the day that were totally outside of their job description but smack dab in the center of their passion. And each one of them killed it!
Reminding your staff that this is a one-of-a-kind event gives them permission to try big, audacious things in their areas without the pressure of having to replicate them every week. If their ideas don’t work, that’s ok! But if they do, that Launch Day can unlock new leadership potential and ministry norms that you might not have discovered otherwise.
Let one of our Strategists help you plan your perfect Launch Day!
If you felt stuck before reading this article, I hope that these five tips have given you the confidence to launch your new church brand like a pro. But if you still think that you would benefit from having a custom Launch Day plan crafted for your church, we’re here to help!
Let us help you harness that one-day energy for your ten-year vision by using the form below to request a free consultation with one of our Strategists.
Looking for even more? Get our Renaming Your Church Checklist here!