Branding for Churches—The Ultimate Guide

Branding for Churches—The Ultimate Guide

By: ArtSpeak Creative Team | Branding Church Branding Communications & Marketing featured Ministry Branding

Introduction: Why Branding for Churches?

We love pastors. And with plenty of pastors and former pastors on our team, we know what it’s like to think, “Branding for churches … Is it really necessary?” It is. Here’s why.

If you’re a Kingdom leader of any kind, you have a vision, a message to communicate, and a deep love for Jesus and his people. 

We also know that you want to present the gospel clearly. And once people have heard it, you want to guide them into life-changing discipleship. 

You and your team have probably lovingly crafted the churchgoing experience for people. You’ve drafted a statement of faith and thought deeply about your worship style. You’ve developed—or are developing—fun and engaging children’s and youth ministries. 

You might even have a website and a logo.

But for a lot of churches, the key difficulty is getting people to walk through the door. This likely has nothing to do with the church itself. In fact, most of the congregations we work with are communities about which people would say, “I didn’t know church could be like that!”

That’s precisely the problem: People’s perceptions of church based on their past experiences have led them to the conclusion that church has nothing for them. Whether they know your church or not, they already have opinions about you. 

You may have a church branding problem. 

And thankfully, we know a few solutions for branding for churches that we can’t wait to share with you. Ready to get started?

Lives Changed,

Kirk and Jason
ArtSpeak Creative

Chapter 1: Get Your Church Brand in Focus

By Kirk Hadden, Cofounder, ArtSpeak Creative

I (Kirk) enjoy photography and have a great camera. Cameras have come a long way—there’s an amazing amount of science built into a relatively small device. 

In a lens alone, there are 16 precisely crafted elements. Each is necessary to process random photons, guiding them to a precise point on the sensor. If one of those elements is missing or damaged, the camera won’t produce a clear picture.

Camera refraction and branding for churches

Not only that, but also different wavelengths of light refract in lenses at different rates. Photographers have to adjust for all that too. We’ll leverage special coatings and low-dispersion lenses that keep images from developing strangely colored fringes. 

High quality cameras—along with proper photographic technique—help me overcome the obstacles to present something I saw clearly and accurately.

Clearly presenting a message to another person so that he or she can accurately “see” it the way you do … 

That’s called branding.

But we tend to leave branding for churches to chance. Instead of being intentional, we toss our messages out there and hope for the best. We put up generic billboards, blast people with social media messages, or simply order a bunch of T-shirts for people to wear. We often hope that something, anything, will grab someone’s attention.

Is that the best way to handle the most important message ever entrusted to humans?

Branding for Churches: What Church Communicators Forget

In every communication, there’s a messenger and an audience. Churches understand that. As Christians, we have a compelling message, and we want those who need it to hear it.

But we forget that between the messenger and the audience, there are several obstacles, or refractions, that can distort the message based on an audience’s preconceptions and past experiences. 

Toss in the word “church,” and suddenly you’re dealing with a whole host of distortions. Likely, the reason a person you’re trying to reach won’t come to your church is that they have a problem with the word “church” itself

There are 2,000 years of history preloaded into that person’s brain, whether or not the person is aware of it. Perhaps they think church is:

  • Boring
  • Full of hypocrites
  • Rigid
  • Backward
  • Hurtful
  • Irrelevant
  • Anti-science
  • Too political
  • Too whatever

So, when you start talking about church, doesn’t it make sense to take care how you do it?

That does not mean we change the gospel by sugarcoating it, reducing it, or undermining it. It just means that every word, every image, every aesthetic choice associated with branding for churches needs to be intentional.

And, frankly, if there’s any organization in the history of the world that needs to be intentional about how it communicates, it’s the Church. 

Branding for Churches? It Can Be Holy

Yes, “branding for churches” can sound unspiritual.

But we believe if God is in it, intentional communication—also known as “branding”—can be holy. Doesn’t this sound like something we should be doing as the body of Christ?

  • Getting to know the people in our communities
  • Finding out how they want to be treated
  • Learning what words make them feel loved
  • Discovering how we can best serve them
  • Letting them know through language, art, and creativity that we’re available for them

It’s time to break down the barriers that keep people out of good churches. 

How to Begin the Process of Branding for Churches

One of the reasons many people resist the idea of branding for churches is simply this: Organizations have used the branding process to manipulate each of us in the past. We were convinced we knew someone or something through excellent marketing, only to find out the whole game was rigged to mislead us.

Lying about who we are is the last thing we want to do as Christians. Your church brand should never promise something it cannot deliver, and there is no righteous reason it should do so.

But what if your logo, the colors you used, and the words you chose to describe yourself didn’t lie about your ministry or the gospel? What if those things became a doorway for people who would love your church to get to know the real you? 

For ArtSpeak clients, our church branding process begins with prayer and empathy

First, prayerfully consider who God’s called you to be as a ministry and write it down. Ask him to show you the following:

  • Your mission
  • Your vision
  • Your core values
  • The key phrases that have shaped you
  • The testimonies that reveal your calling to you

Then, empathize with those people you’re called to reach. Ask yourself these questions when determining your church’s audience:

  • What are their stories?
  • What are their lives like?
  • What do they hope for?
  • What are their fears?
  • What keeps them from accepting God’s best for their lives?
  • What do they like (and what don’t they like)?

With these questions answered, you can ask more significant questions about how you can talk to those people specifically. 

Then, you use all the creativity at your disposal to present them with the good news.

Chapter 2: Approaching Branding for Churches with Empathy

By Jason Bowman, Cofounder, ArtSpeak Creative

Making (Almost) Any Relationship Better

We’ve all heard it from the pulpit. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. “People don’t care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.” But as often as I’ve heard it, I don’t think I really understood the saying until recently.

I (Jason) had the opportunity to share a stage with my wife at a couples’ retreat where we presented a talk on the topic of communication and how to make it better in any relationship. As we studied Scripture in preparation, we kept running into the same concept, which I’ve come to believe is at the core of all positive communication.

The ability to hear (and be heard) accurately and effectively comes down to one thing: empathy.

As this revelation settled in, I started looking at every communication problem I’ve had in my life. Whether it was with a family member, an employee, a client, or a friend, the same root problem would reassert itself over and over again.

A communication failure is symptomatic of a breakdown in empathy.

What Is Empathy?

The dictionary defines “empathy” as an action in which we develop the capacity to understand, become aware of, become sensitive to, and vicariously experience the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of another. But there’s a caveat: These thoughts, feelings, and experiences are something the other person will never be able to communicate fully or explicitly. 

Empathy requires heart, imagination, and love.

The way I’ve defined it for myself is simply this: Empathy is the ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I try to think what they may be thinking and feel what they may be feeling. I do this hoping to understand what they’re experiencing. 

There are three areas in which I see a lack of empathy holding my fellow Christian leaders (and myself) back:

  • In our closest relationships
  • With our staff members
  • In our marketing efforts

Applying Empathy to Our Closest Relationships

Our “job” as Christian leaders is to show empathy to others: the person we’re counseling, the dissatisfied congregant, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow.

Before we know it, compassion fatigue sets in. Our loved ones get the dregs of our emotional well, and we stop showing empathy to the most important people in our lives.

But here’s something to remember: No relationship can survive without empathy. When we lose the ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, two-way communication stops.

For example, when I mess up, my wife has a hard time receiving my apology unless she can actually feel how sorry I am. It won’t hit home until I’ve articulated that I understand her point of view.

Communicating with empathy makes our closest relationships stronger.

Here’s another example. 

I’m a tall guy. Recently, when I was having lunch with a new pastor friend, he said, “Tell me about when you played basketball, ’cause I know you played.” 

Well, I started talking—it was a great time in my life, and I still enjoy playing when I can. It wasn’t until later I thought, “He doesn’t care about basketball at all! He cares about me.” 

I learned that day that my new friend has a finely developed sense of empathy. He got me to talk about something he knew I’d be excited about because empathy says, “I’m willing to like what you like.”

This is why I know so much about Fortnite (through my son) and ballet (through my daughter). When we allow empathy to change us, we’re better able to show love to other people.

Church Leadership and Empathy

I’ve served as both a church and a business leader. As I look back at some of my earliest experiences, I feel a pang when I think about some of the decisions I made.

This was me at my worst: I didn’t want people to mess up on my watch. I wanted them to do things right so they wouldn’t ruin my success. I thought my job was to keep people from destroying what I was trying to build.


But empathy, when it’s at work in me, inspires something very different. It says, “How can I serve my staff so they can succeed?” In other words, empathy causes me to be more concerned with another person’s success than my own. 

Empathetic leadership unlocks synergy and creates an atmosphere of enthusiastic teamwork. Everyone benefits.

Empathy and Planning Ahead

As leaders, we can be prone to chaos. It’s easy to say, “I need this done tomorrow! I’m paying you—snap to it!”

Now, quick deadlines and short turnaround times are part of life, but these should be the exception, not the rule. When leaders plan ahead, they show empathy toward those who work for them. 

RELATED RESOURCE: Free Church Planning Calendar

The resulting work will be higher in quality and more creative. Those who are serving you will feel like you actually care about their experience.

Love says listen first: empathy in branding for churches

Approaching Branding for Churches with Empathy

Our marketing company, ArtSpeak Creative, works with a lot of churches. Too often, “branding for churches” and “church marketing” are dirty words when it comes to ministry.

Unfortunately, people who “don’t believe in church marketing” engage in bad marketing all the time. When a poorly communicated event is coming up—and it looks like no one is coming—they bombard a random audience with Facebook messages, emails, and automated calls. 

Communication like this doesn’t consider the other person’s perspective. It works against everything we stand for as Christians.

But this is what good marketing is about:

  • Mission
  • Listening
  • Understanding 
  • Adding real value

Great church marketing begins and ends with empathy.

This is foundational to everything we do as Christians.

Is this not our calling? Is this not what Christ did? Our creator became creation, then led us as us. 

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5–8)

Love says, “I’m coming to you on your terms. I’m not asking you to come to me.” 

Whenever we communicate anything, let’s ask ourselves, “How can I be more Christlike and show empathy to those I’m trying to speak to?”

Chapter 3: Discovery Process for Branding for Churches

By Uriah Fracassi, Director of Branding, ArtSpeak Creative

“I Need a Church Logo.”

When we first started ArtSpeak Creative, we’d get a call from a church leader. That person would often say something like, “I need a church logo.” 

Or, “I need a church billboard design.” “I need social media graphics.” 

And then they’d add, “Pronto!” (OK … we made that part up.)

We were glad to help. But after a while, we stopped ourselves from saying a simple “yes” to every request. 

Instead, our answer became “maybe.” 

Maybe that’s what you need. Maybe you need a church logo. Maybe you need a church website, a billboard, or a graphic. But marketing “tactics” do not equal a successful marketing “strategy.”

So, instead of going out and buying the next thing you think you need, stop.

And then …

The Communication Triangle as a Tool for Branding for Churches

That’s where you should start too. 

The Communication Triangle is a method for organizing information and solving communication problems. Using it, you can match what you want for your audience with what they want for themselves.

  • The bottom left-hand side of the triangle represents your church.
  • The bottom right-hand side of the triangle is your audience.
  • Between you and your audience is your reputation.
  • At the top of the triangle is the “shared win.”

If you haven’t yet, you can download a PDF of the Communication Triangle here.

Download: Branding for Churches

Download: Branding for Churches

Ask these five questions when you start the process of branding for your church:

  • Who are you?
  • What do people think about you?
  • Who are you talking to?
  • What value do you offer?
  • What are your blind spots?

Question 1: Who Are You?

Most people we work with have already thought about their identity quite a lot. But you’d be surprised how many churches have never thought about some of these foundational branding elements.

Get this all out of your head and onto a page. Start here:

(We discuss how to create mission, vision, and core-values statements here.)

Next, draw out everything you can think of that’s unique about your church.

Write down every phrase that defines what you believe, who you want to be, and your future aspirations. 

Then, ask yourself: 

  • What’s distinctive about us? 
  • What are our unique advantages?
  • What do we want for the future? 
  • How will our audience—our city, our region, or whatever—look different if we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do?

Write it all down. Get it all in one place. Without these pieces of the puzzle, it’s hard to know what you are inviting people to. 

But too many of us stop here. We take our self-definition and put it on a web page. 

No one cares! (Sorry.)

People are necessarily self-interested, but it’s not because they’re sinful. It’s because they have so many options! They have to protect themselves from the millions of voices asking for their time and attention.

So, if you want to reach people with your church branding, you have to do a little more digging first.

Question 2: What Do People Think about You?

Your church’s reputation may be standing between you and the people you want to reach. Often, you have to overcome the way people perceive you to show them who you really are … and what you can do for them.

Sometimes your reputation is positive, but it doesn’t reflect where you’re headed. Other times, you have a negative reputation just because of the type of organization you are. (“Church” is a word loaded with history, both positive and negative.)

That’s OK. Answer these questions to evaluate your church’s reputation:

  • What is your past reputation (if you have one)?
  • What is your current reputation?
  • What is your future (or aspirational) reputation?

Question 3: Who Are You Talking To?

A lot of people are reluctant to define an audience with branding for churches. It feels limiting. 

They think, “We want to reach everybody!” And in a way, that’s true if you’re a ministry or a church. The message of Jesus really is for everyone. So why count people out?

Instead, think of it this way:

  • Who are we called to reach primarily
  • What do we know about those people?
  • Of all the people we’re currently helping, what do they have in common?

Here’s an example of how clarifying your audience helps with branding for churches. We recently led a Las Vegas–based church through their branding process. Since several of our staff members live in the St. Louis area, we started by asking, “What do people in the Midwest not know about people who live in Las Vegas?”

We learned a lot! Not only did we find out that Vegas isn’t filled with leisure suits and sequins, but also the church leaders told us these things:

  • What the people there are like
  • The variations that exist inside that generalized demographic
  • Hopes, fears, and challenges people in Las Vegas have in common

People are all different, but if you can paint the very “center of the target”—the people most likely to respond to what you’re doing—you will reach people outside that small circle.

Question 4: What Value Do You Offer?

In the next chapter, we’re going to share how we create our Messaging Blueprint, one of the pillars of our process for branding for churches. The Messaging Blueprint will give you actual words to use when you address your audience.

But for now, answer these questions to determine your church’s value: 

  • How should people feel when they encounter our communications?
  • What mediums will we use to communicate (social platforms, websites, books, kiosks, billboards, etc.)?
  • What are we inviting people into?
  • What value do we offer people that we believe is unique to us?

Now, all of the above is a good start. But it’s not enough to be in your head thinking all this through. It may help to get a little outside perspective.

Question 5: Where Are Your Blind Spots?

When you put all your answers to these questions in a document, you will find holes in your understanding. ArtSpeak Creative adds a few steps to this process to help you see gaps in your own experience.

First, after we read through your Discovery Questions, we get on a Zoom call with you. We talk you through all the points above and look for more detail.

Then, we do some research. We crawl through your website and online platforms. 

We look at the online presences of similar organizations reaching the same kinds of people. For most churches, we’ll obtain detailed demographic information of their audiences. For others, we’ll conduct interviews or collect survey results.

In a few cases, we’ll come and visit you! If you’re a church, we’ll arrive on a Saturday, interview your senior leaders, then show up unguided on Sunday morning. 

We have life-giving conversations with congregation members (we dig for gold, not dirt). After we get a feel for who you are, we reflect our experience back to you.

But it all starts with the Branding Questionnaire. Have you filled one out? 

Download: Branding for Churches

Download: Branding for Churches

Chapter 4: Create a Church Brand Messaging Strategy (Messaging Blueprint)

By Janna Sensenig, Copywriter, ArtSpeak Creative

Why a Messaging Blueprint Is Essential to Branding for Churches

When you think about branding for churches, do you picture a logo, colors that fit your church’s style, and an overall visual identity? Well, take a step back, because one of the most important parts of your church’s branding is actually your church’s messaging. 

Yep, you read that correctly. And a Messaging Blueprint is a single document that synthesizes every part of the Communication Triangle to create messaging that communicates the shared win—that’s where what you have to offer your audience meets what your audience is looking for. 

In your Messaging Blueprint, you’ll cover the following:

  • Your identity
    • Who you are
    • Your reputation
    • What you want
  • Your audience
    • Who you’re called to reach
    • What they want, hope, and fear
    • Where they’re going
  • Your messaging

This Blueprint not only guides your message but also directs the development of visual branding for churches. From this guide, you will be able to confidently communicate your refined message in a way that meets your audience where they are and brings both of your hopes together. (Remember that ever-so-helpful Communication Triangle? We’re talking about the spot on it where “what you want for your audience” overlaps with “what your audience wants for themselves,” which forms your message.)

Your Messaging Blueprint is one of the most important aspects of your church’s strategic mission. Let’s take a look at the elements of this guide through the lens of the Communication Triangle.

The Role of Identity in Branding for Churches

At one corner of your triangle is your starting point. This is where you define everything about who you are.

What makes you unique? What are the values you will not waver from? 

You answer these questions during your discovery process. The answers then serve as the beginning of your journey toward the shared win. For this exercise, you will start with what you already know about yourself.

Mission Statement

At the core, most churches have a similar mission—to reach people for Jesus. But what is your church’s unique mission statement? Another way to think about this is, what do you want to do through your church in your community?

Vision Statement

If your mission statement is what you’re doing, then your vision statement is how you’re doing it. This fleshes out the steps of your mission.

Core Values

These are the deeply rooted principles that your church and its people stand on. Think of your core values as guidelines you would set out for staff and volunteers.

RELATED RESOURCES: For more about creating your own mission, vision, and core-values statements, check out this article and this video.

Distinctives and Advantages

This section highlights what’s unique and distinct about your church, as well as your key advantage—that’s the one thing you do better than everyone else.


This is how your potential audience perceives you. We suggest highlighting your past reputation (what has your relationship been up to this point with your audience?), your current reputation (what’s your relationship like right now with your audience?), and your future reputation (what would you like your relationship with your audience to be?). 

Archetype—Brand Personality

How would you describe your brand’s personality? That’s what you’ll cover here. At ArtSpeak, we have a starting point of 52 archetypes that we pull from to create a unique brand personality for each individual church, so you’ll know how you want to sound, feel, and communicate. Here’s a short primer using just 12 archetypes.

Tone Words

These words center on how your brand sounds to your audience. Choose three core words and write a short descriptor paragraph for each. Good tone words include “clear,” “compassionate,” “deep,” “light,” “welcoming,” and “funny.” Think of three words you would use to give a writer filters when they’re writing for you.

Pulse Words

These words pair with your church brand’s visual identity and center on describing the feel of your brand, including layouts, typography, textures, colors, and more.* We recommend choosing three core Pulse Words. Good Pulse Words include “bold,” “warm,” “anchored,” “textured,” and “bright.” Think of three words you could use to give visual designers feedback when they’re designing for you.

* Pulse Words are incredibly helpful guideposts as you move into the visual-branding phase of your strategy. They help you create a visual identity that feels like your ministry. To find these words, think about your ministry’s message and write out words that resonate with the feeling you hope your audience will have when they encounter it for the first or millionth time. 

The Role of Audience in Branding for Churches

One of the most important aspects of a messaging strategy is knowing your audience. If you’re selling peanut butter to people with a nut allergy, you’re not going to get anywhere. In fact, you’re endangering their lives.

Your mission is as critically important. And if you understand your audience intimately, your ability to reach them expands. Here are ways you can define your audience.

1. Define Your Primary Audience

These are the people you’re most equipped to reach and who your mission is created around. We recommend you pick somebody so you can reach more of everybody.

2. Look at Demographics

Highlight the details of your audience—age range, family structure, living arrangements, even experience with church in the past.

3. Discover Their Challenges (Psychographics, Part 1)

What keeps these people up at night? What do they struggle with on a daily basis, both internally and externally? What do they wish they could change about their lives?

4. Build Out Hopes and Fears (Psychographics, Part 2)

These should come directly from the challenges you identify above. What does your audience hope for, and, on the flip side, what do they fear? 

5. Expand Your Range to a Secondary Audience

Outside of your primary-audience bull’s-eye is a secondary audience that also needs to hear your message—who are they, in simple terms? 

6. Develop Personas

This is where you’ll create descriptions of people who fit into your primary audience (and sometimes one or two who fit into your secondary audience too). These personas should cover who these people are, their ages, families, jobs, backgrounds, brands they love, and experiences they’ve had in life. These personas will give you concrete examples of the people you’re striving to reach with your message. 

The Role of Messaging in Branding for Churches

As both you and your audience reach the apex of the Communication Triangle, you come together for that glorious shared win. This is the point where what you have to offer directly correlates with their challenges. It’s that place where your audience’s hopes and dreams blend beautifully with yours.

Here’s what’s covered.

Value Propositions

These are statements that speak directly to the value of your church and coincide with your audience’s hopes, fears, and struggles. They’re meant to be short one-liners that you can use anywhere—on social media, on your website, even in sermon series.

A value proposition is always one of three kinds of statements:

  • A gain creator—Something that will make someone’s life more positive
  • A pain reliever—Something that will reduce or eliminate a negative experience
  • A product or service—We don’t write tons of these in branding for churches, but this is in the “Get your taxes done stress-free” category

Examples of effective value propositions for churches:

  • “Find sustainable success over your struggles.”
  • “Pay it forward by giving back.”
  • “Empowering today’s dreamers and tomorrow’s leaders.”
  • “The truth that matters. A church that makes a difference.”
  • “Where compassion gets the final word.”
  • “Make serving a family value.”

Brand Promise

What’s the big, all-encompassing value proposition that you can promise to your audience? That’s your brand promise. (This can end up becoming your tagline in most cases.)

Examples of brand promises or taglines for churches:

  • “Get set free. Thrive in life. Help others do the same.”
  • “Ordinary people. Extraordinary purpose. You’re invited.”
  • “Inspiring one another to live and love like Jesus.”
  • “Explore the questions you’re asking. Discover the love you’re seeking.” 
  • “Real people. Real life. Taking steps together.”
  • “Live wide awake.”


If you had to describe your church in a 30-second elevator pitch, what would you say? Your one-liner is a concise statement of what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for. This isn’t the same as your mission statement because you want to craft it for your audience, not for your internal team.

Examples of one-liners or elevator pitches for churches:

  • “Life can feel like a lonely uphill climb. At The Point Church, you can find rest in Jesus and joy in fellowship, so you don’t have to face life’s trials alone.”
  • “Courtney Wise is a writer and speaker and the founder of Mom-Dentity™, a game plan for finding the mom God created you to be in the worst, most chaotic, and funniest parts of your life.”
  • “University Christian Church: An open-hearted church for curious-minded people.”

Core Story

Your Core Story is an example of the journey your audience will go on, encapsulating their hopes and fears in a way that resonates with them and shows them that you’re willing to meet them where they are.

Wondering how all this comes together? In the next section, we’ll go over what implementing some of these messaging tactics looked like with a real church. 

Church Branding Case Study: Discover Church in Philadelphia

Messaging is when you choose what words you’ll use to invite the people you’re uniquely called to reach to your unique church. One of the many ways to incorporate your messaging into a compelling invitation is through a Core Story that’s about your audience specifically and highlights their challenges, hopes, and fears. 

Here’s how we created a Core Story for Discover Church in Philadelphia. 

Refine a Compelling Story

Marc and Monica Poland, pastors of Discover Church in Philadelphia, knew church had to be different. Marc often felt stuck in church, as if there were no clear path in front of him. By contrast, the business world afforded him an upward trajectory—he experienced the clarity of seeing his next steps from wherever he was on his journey. 

But even the business world wasn’t satisfying him. His career didn’t fulfill his deepest longings to understand himself in the context of his own purpose. We used these key pieces of Marc’s story to help write the Core Story for Discover Church. 

Your own Core Story will help you cut through the noise and connect with the people in your audience because you’ll be telling a story that they connect with on a personal level. 

So where do you begin?

Gather the Best Parts of Your Own Story

What parts of your own journey will you use to craft your church’s Core Story? Before you can get there, you need to know your story. First, write your story, or make an audio recording of you telling your story. Use questions to jog your memories, such as these:

  • What moment stands out as a turning point?
  • How did you come to your current understanding of what ministry should be for you?
  • Who influenced you?
  • What made your journey of transformation difficult?
  • How was the difficulty resolved?
  • What have you experienced with Jesus that others should also experience?

Once you have your story, let’s dig for the pieces that will work best for your church’s Core Story.

The Three Story Qualities
  1. Relatable: The story is relatable to the people in your target audience.
  2. Fears and Hopes: The story connects to the fears and hopes felt by the people in your audience.
  3. Guide: The story can help position your church as a helpful guide for the people you are called to reach.

Let’s examine Discover Church as a case study for the three story qualities, starting with “relatable.”

1. Be Relatable—Who Is Your Audience?

Before we go any further, we have to identify who exactly is in Marc’s audience, just as you need to identify who is in yours. Marc and Monica were best positioned to reach young professionals in Philadelphia with children ages 4–14. This target was strategic for at least two reasons:

  1. Marc and Monica are young professionals, so they can naturally relate.
  2. According to certain statistics, ages 4–14 is the highest age segment who comes to faith.

The beginning of Marc’s Core Story goes something like this.

Have you ever felt stuck, wondering what’s next for you?

In my journey, corporate America afforded me opportunities to discover my next steps, and put myself on an upward trajectory. But the truth is, I chose to be someone else because I wasn’t sure who I was.

The relatability of the opening statement is clear. First, it’s all about the individual. Next, the listener is brought into an experience he or she can likely relate to. 

2. Connect to the Fears and Hopes

We’ll continue with the next part of the Discover Church Core Story:

Sometimes the quiet moments reveal the truth: You don’t yet know who you really are, or why you’re really here. 

Maybe you shut out troubling thoughts with distractions, like most people do. If that’s you, we have an invitation for you. 

Stop wasting precious years of your life by not knowing who you really are, or what your purpose really is. God has something better, and we invite you to discover it.

Can you see the fears and hopes that may be felt by the people in Discover Church’s audience in the above paragraph? 

We’re addressing a fear of missing your purpose and wasting your life. But we’re not stopping there. We’re inviting people into a real relationship with Jesus that can bring real answers to those fears. By being mindful of the felt fears and hopes, we are ministering with empathy and compassion.

3. Be a Helpful Guide

Here’s the rest of their story:

Along the way in our journey, when God overwhelmed us with amazement, we realized that church had to be different. We realized that God had something better for us, and for you to discover.

Once you discover what you were made for, everything clicks, and you’ll say, “I wish I knew this stuff sooner.” God has something next for you. He always does. 

We look forward to seeing you at Discover Church.

Marc and Monica had their moments of epiphany, in which they realized that things had to be different. This experience positions them as helpful guides for people in Philadelphia who face similar internal struggles.

Because Marc and Monica issue a challenge to their audience (“Stop wasting precious years of your life”), they can now be viewed as guides, or perhaps coaches. They have a way to help.

4. Put it All Together

When we take each part of the messaging for Discover Church—their identity, their audience, and the shared win between them—we’re able to craft a Core Story that walks their audience through a journey they can relate to, one that hits on their hopes and fears and brings them to a guide who can help. 

Here’s Their Full Core Story

Have you ever felt stuck, wondering what’s next for you?

In my journey, corporate America afforded me opportunities to discover my next steps, and put myself on an upward trajectory. But the truth is, I chose to be someone else because I wasn’t sure who I was.

Sometimes the quiet moments reveal the truth: You don’t yet know who you really are, or why you’re really here. 

Maybe you shut out troubling thoughts with distractions, like most people do. If that’s you, we have an invitation for you. 

Stop wasting precious years of your life by not knowing who you really are, or what your purpose really is. God has something better, and we invite you to discover it.

Along the way in our journey, when God overwhelmed us with amazement, we realized that church had to be different. We realized that God had something better for us, and for you to discover.

Once you discover what you were made for, everything clicks, and you’ll say, “I wish I knew this stuff sooner.” God has something next for you. He always does. 

We look forward to seeing you at Discover Church.

Chapter 5: Create a Mood Board for Your Church Brand

By Uriah Fracassi, Director of Branding, ArtSpeak Creative

Translating Your Message to Your Audience

Our process of branding for churches is all about clarifying your vision. You define your audience, remembering their perceptions about you, and move toward a shared win—that place where your hopes and dreams blend with theirs. 

We talked through your Messaging Blueprint and the three corners of the Communication Triangle:

  • Your identity
  • Your audience
  • Your messaging

Once you’ve defined your message, it’s time to create visual elements that support your message.

Where Do You Start?

Before da Vinci painted The Last Supper, he compiled inspiration. He wrote notes and sketched ideas that clarified his visual direction before he painted a single stroke.

In other words, he created a mental mood board. At ArtSpeak, we do the same thing—except we use Pinterest as a starting point. Here’s what we mean.

What Is a Mood Board?

A mood board is a compilation of inspiring images (and other media) that feel like the visual identity you’re crafting. This step comes before you create anything.

In essence, you’re loading your palette with colors, textures, and various other design elements that catch your eye and feel right. 

We like to use Pinterest because it’s sharable, expandable, and collaboration friendly. It’s the creative’s best friend when searching for inspiration.

But your mood board will have limited effectiveness if it doesn’t result in a clear visual direction. Here’s what we do.

Building a Mood Board for Your Church Brand: The Magic Recipe

We’ve discovered a process for building your mood boards that is about as easy as breathing. It’s called expansion and contraction.

First Expand

Load your mind by reading through your Messaging Blueprint. Remember your audience, and keep your Pulse Words in front of you.

Then have fun pinning! In the expansion process, you’re looking for inspiration that feels right for your visual brand. 

What should you pin?

  • Brands that inspire you
  • Anything that could relate to your Pulse Words
  • Logos
  • Colors
  • Designs
  • Photography 
  • Fonts
  • Anything that grabs your eye!

Along with the inspiring elements that you can find on Pinterest, here are our most helpful resources (and they’re easy to pin to your boards).

Remember: Don’t discount or filter anything yet. If it grabs your eye, pin it!

Then Contract

You’ve built an unorganized inspiration archive. You’ve allowed your ideas to settle (maybe more inspiration came to you). Now it’s time to bring those thoughts into focus. We call this process contraction.

How do you make the right eliminations?

Go with Your Gut

The first step of your contraction process doesn’t necessarily mean pressing that delete button. Instead, review each pin, noting your initial reaction—do you love it, or is it just OK?

Look Back at Your Blueprint 

The next step in refining a mood board when branding for churches is to compare your Messaging Blueprint to your pins. Evaluate each one, noting which elements you liked (typography, color, images) and why. Do you like an element because it’s the “cool” thing? Is it just something that aligns with your personal taste? Or does it have a connection to your vision, your audience, and your message?

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

In this process, you discover where you might have veered off course. That’s OK! With this new focus, you may go through another round of expansion and contraction. 

How to Know When You’re Done

The expansion and contraction process can go on indefinitely, so when are you done? You’re done when there are 2–3 clear, pursuable directions for all the elements of your visual brand: logo, colors, graphics, photography, and typography. This clarity is necessary to move into the next phase of branding for churches.

Chapter 6: Create a Visual Identity for Your Church Brand

By Uriah Fracassi, Director of Branding, ArtSpeak Creative

Creating a Church Logo? Here’s Your First Priority.

We love a great church logo.

At their best, logos are simple, evocative, and intriguing. They draw you in, pique your curiosity, and make you wonder about the people behind the brands—the organizations the logos represent.

But when you make your own ministry or church logo (or hire someone to do it), there are a lot of ways you can run into trouble. 

For example, the final product can be obvious, predictable, or boring. 

It can also be overly complex, as if the designer were trying to communicate everything about a ministry at once. You’ve seen those—doves and crosses and globes and dancing children inside a giant Bible. 

But “cool” logos can be problematic too. Yes, they may be expensive, crafted by talented artists in high-ceilinged, brick-walled, reclaimed-wood-floored lofts in the East Village. And yes, they may be totally on trend.

But that’s not the priority if your goal is changing lives. 

The right logo for your ministry must, in some way, feel like your ministry. Then it must communicate that feeling to those you want to serve.

And if it doesn’t help you reach more people, it’s not worth the effort.

To do all of that, you often need more than a solo graphic designer and a computer. Creating a church logo is a crazy, sometimes tricky, often fun, and always collaborative process.

And though we’d like to put all of our team’s secrets and experience into this one guide, we can’t.

However, we can give you some guideposts if you’re thinking about trying your hand at logo design. And bonus: These principles apply to any creative project. 

Church Logos Don’t Start on Computers. They Start with Conversations.

At ArtSpeak, we don’t sell just logos. That’s because a logo is only one piece of branding for churches. And it all starts with what we’ve already mentioned—using the Communication Triangle, creating a Messaging Blueprint, and using that information to create a mood board.

All of this is collaborative because we believe collaboration is good

But once all that prework is done, it’s time for individual designers to sit down and get to work.

If you’re a designer who wants to try to create a logo, here’s what we would suggest you do. But once again, this process works for anyone trying to generate ideas of any kind.

Church Logo Creation Part 1: Idea-tion

When we are partnering with a ministry, someone on our team will have taken time to come up with a list of words we believe feel like that ministry. We run those words past the organization’s leader or creative director to make sure we’re on the right track.

These Pulse Words (which we briefly touched on in chapter 4) are usually a list of three to five words. For example, here’s what we chose for The Gathering Place, a church in Moody, Ala.:

  • Rooted
  • God-centered
  • Unapologetically authentic
  • Connected
  • Empowering

For Bay Presbyterian, an over-100-year-old church in Bay Village, Ohio, we chose these:

  • Bridge
  • Balance
  • Foundation
  • Honest 
  • Open

Then, we take those Pulse Words and start free-associating with other related words. (Yes, we’re still working with words!) These words will suggest our initial sketches and often will find representation in the final logo.

Church Logo Creation Part 2: Move to Sketch-Pad Expansion

Here is where we work with images for the first time, and we do this with a pen or pencil on a sketch pad. 

At ArtSpeak, we find many designers would rather start in Adobe Illustrator, working in vectors. These are often talented people who are unsure of their skills with a pencil. They want everything they create to be pretty from the beginning.

But here’s what we believe: This stage of the process is not about being pretty. It’s not about creating a few perfect ideas to share with others. It’s about raw idea-generation, pure and simple.

In this stage, turn off your inner editor and sketch very quickly. When you work this way, you don’t have time to ask yourself “Is this good?” That question will only kill (or severely limit) your creativity. 

Instead, we continually set goals for ourselves during this phase. Like, “My goal is to fill one page with bad and obvious ideas.”

Or, “I won’t stop until I reach 50 ideas.”

“I won’t stop moving my pencil for 30 minutes.”

Here, we encourage designers to try different kinds of ideas too: 

  • Wordmarks
  • Icons
  • Scripts
  • Fonts
  • Abstract shapes

This sounds like an inefficient way to work. You might say, “There’s not enough time to work through all these ideas!” But if you’re not filtering as you ideate, you’re actually being incredibly efficient and working toward what we call predictable creativity.

Church Logo Creation Part 3: 10X Your Logo Ideas

First, it’s useful to say you can almost always double your ideas. Just take a previous idea, then expand it, change it, or modify it in another way. In fact, it’s easy to create three or four versions of the same idea. 

And since it’s in a sketchbook (and not on a computer, where you lose your work), you have a record of every idea, even the bad ones. 

This running record of all ideas, good and bad, is crucial to the next step: Show all your ideas, good and bad, to a team of other artists. 

If you’re a church creative, this is not the point in the process where you share your ideas with a non-designer, like your pastor or the head of your children’s ministry. 

You share your ideas with trustworthy people who understand design and have their own ideas to contribute. (Don’t have a community like this yet? We’d love to invite you to join ours! You can check out the ArtSpeak Creative Community here.) 

At this point, a great team will steal your best ideas and play with them to come up with even more. Or they’ll point out something great about one of your bad ideas and send you off in a completely different (and inspiring) direction.

We realize that at ArtSpeak, we’re in a privileged position—we have several great designers who collaborate with one another in a direct but healthy way. 

Collaboration works best with talented people you can trust.

Church Logo Creation Part 4: Refine

These ideas have a purpose—to find the best (and only the best) possible options to present to a ministry leader. 

For us, one of our art directors will make that call. That person will choose which logos to vectorize (recreate in Adobe Illustrator) and then turn them into a presentation.

Here, we become hyperaware of everything a potential logo might be communicating. One of us may have created something we think perfectly suggests the right feeling. Still, someone else might see an echo of a very different image. We’ll make adjustments or try again.

Ultimately, we’ll present between one and five of our best ideas. Three is ideal, but there are exceptions. 

For TikTok influencers The McFarlands, we were confident in a single idea, and they ended up loving it.

The presentation may feature the logos in various settings—on a T-shirt, on a building, on a business card—but we try not to overdo it. The fewer distractions, the better.

Parts of a Style Overview in Church Brand Guides

A logo can’t do all the work of expressing the content of your Messaging Blueprint visually. In your Style Overview, we pair your logo with the following things.


Before your audience sees anything else, they see your colors. Color evokes emotion, and the consistent use of color is vital to effective brand recognition. Your Pulse Words are the foundation of choosing your color palette. Use them to guide the choice of inspiration sources to ensure your colors evoke the right emotions in your audience. The importance of color cannot be overstated.


Few things communicate the look and feel of a brand more clearly than how letters, numbers, and symbols work together. We believe typography should strike a balance between legibility and interest. Use typography to communicate an overall tone and quality. Consistent typographical practices reinforce your brand personality and ensure clarity and harmony in all your communications.

Design Elements

While brand consistency relies heavily on logo usage, color, and typography, we recognize that these are not the only elements within a brand-identity design system. Illustrations, shapes, icons, angles, and other elements enhance the overall feeling of your brand.


Photography is the most powerful way to connect with people. Carefully chosen photos should be used more than any other design asset. Photography is vital to the success of branding for churches and should be treated as an essential part of your brand executions.

Use these primary guiding principles to shoot and select photos:

  • Reveal the Experience: Photos should help future visitors overcome the fear of the unknown by giving them an inside look.
  • Warm and Joyful: Photos should help people want to make their story part of your story.

Patterns and Textures

Patterns and textures add interest to designs. Generally, they are not the main show. They support the star players. For best use, place them sparingly and subtly in backgrounds to enhance the overall dynamism and feel of any composition.

Chapter 7: Launch Your Church Brand

By Ryan Weiss, Strategist and Copywriter, ArtSpeak Creative

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 branding for churches would be an understatement. (Half a century with the same name will do that to you.)

RELATED RESOURCE: How to Rename Your Church: The Complete Waypoint Story

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 branding for churches, 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 creating branding for churches are markedly different from the challenges of brand promotion. If you’re the kind of leader who loves the creative process of developing a new brand—the ideation, mood boards, logo mock-ups, color palettes—then you also might be the kind of leader who 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 launching a rocket 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 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 five ways Waypoint Church leveraged a people-centered strategy to successfully launch our new church brand.

1. Clarify Why You’re Launching a New Church Brand

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 make sure the people helping you launch your brand 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 tell your community, “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 you help 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 Your New Church Brand

Once you’ve got your people cheering, it’s time to pick a launch day! Although the church 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.

“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 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—for both 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 in Launching Branding for Churches

Once you’ve picked your launch day, the next step is to develop your day-of strategy.

Ask yourself this 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 people 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. Choose only merch your people would 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 I could use every day?
  • What’s an item I would be shocked to get for free?

Use the answers to those three questions to begin building a launch-day giveaway bag 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 people will be proud to own and show off to others, your brand will spread through your community like wildfire.

4. Double-Dip Digitally When Launching Branding for Churches

The good news about earmarking the majority of your launch-day budget for giveaways is 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 posts. 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, chances are 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 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 geotag 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 and Retell Stories

The last piece of launching branding for churches is to capture 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 not only will capture the excitement of the launch day, but they also will 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 your pictures of them!

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 launching branding for churches 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 our launch-day activities, we saw staff members ask to lead aspects of the day that were totally outside their job descriptions but smack-dab in the center of their passions. 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.


Hey there,

We hope this article about branding for churches has helped you in some way, whether by helping you better understand crafting your ministry’s messaging or by giving you some ideas for a new logo and how to execute those ideas.

We know and feel confident that branding for churches allows us as believers and ministry leaders to take the message of Jesus Christ and help people hear, understand, and receive it in a way that changes lives.

And that’s what we as church leaders want, right? That’s what Jesus charged us to do in the Great Commission—to spread the message of the gospel to our communities, our states, our nation, and the world. Branding for churches is one way we are able to do that. We hope you are encouraged and excited about how you can better use branding to reach people.

If we can serve you in any way or partner with you to maximize your message and ministry, our team of creatives is standing by ready to help you. We want to make an impact for the Kingdom. We want to see local churches thrive. And we want to help you be all God has called you to be. 

Lives Changed,

Kirk and Jason
ArtSpeak Creative