Church Logos: How to Create One that Feels Like You

Church Logos: How to Create One that Feels Like You

The ArtSpeak Logo Creation Process

Kirk Hadden | November 13, 2020 | branding Church Branding Church Marketing Church Plant Creativity

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

We love a great church logo.

At their best, they’re simple, evocative, and intriguing. They draw you in, pique your curiosity, and make you wonder about the people behind the brand — the organization the logo represents.

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. 

Just no.

But “cool” logos can be problematic, too. Yes, they may be expensive, crafted by a talented artist in a high-ceilinged, brick-walled, reclaimed-wood-floored loft in the East Village. And yes, it 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 article, 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. 

Also, if you’re hiring a team like ours, here’s a peek behind the curtain to see what’s happening while we’re working.

Church Logos Don’t Start on a Computer. They Start with Conversations.

At ArtSpeak, we don’t just sell “logos.” That’s because a logo is only one piece of a ministry’s overall brand. 

Here’s where we begin:

  • Who are you?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What’s your message to them?

That’s right — we start by having a conversation centered around the Communication Triangle, which you can read about and download here.

Next, we create your Messaging Blueprint, which puts language around the Communication Triangle and the feeling your brand should inspire in others. 

We take that information and create a Mood Board: Images we curate from the internet that we think might feel like your ministry. It’s how we get a general idea of what you like and don’t like, along with what might feel right inside your context.

All of this is collaborative because we believe collaboration is good. No temperamental solo artistes are allowed when the stakes are as high as “changed lives.

But once all that pre-work 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

In the Messaging Blueprint, 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 are usually a list of four to five words with three descriptive words. For example, here’s what we chose for Rust City Church, a blue-collar-proud congregation in Ohio’s Rust Belt:

  • Passion (Inspired, Hopeful, Excited)
  • Bold (Audacious, Blunt, Unconventional)
  • Scrappy (Willing, Hardworking, Blue-Collar)
  • Understanding (Vulnerable, Empathetic, Welcoming)
  • Unpolished (Real, Authentic, Gritty)

For Story Church, a start-up in Bakersfield, Cal.:

  • Reframe (Innovation, New Angle, Flexibility)
  • Story (Tell, Speak, Share)
  • Intrigue (Unexpected, Different, Distinctive)
  • Audacity (Daring, Optimistic, Bold)
  • Nurturing (Warm, Counsel, Care)

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. (One of our designers, Uriah Fracassi, went to work on this logo with a bamboo brush!) 

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 fifty ideas.”

Or, “I won’t stop moving my pencil for thirty 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, like, “There’s not enough time to work through all of these ideas!” But if you’re not filtering as you ideate, it’s actually incredibly efficient and leads to 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 some other 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 of your ideas, both 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. 

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 each other in a direct but healthy way. 

Collaboration works best with talented people you can trust.

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 into a presentation.

Here, we become hyper-aware 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.

In the end, 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 — a t-shirt, on a building, on a business card — but we try not to over-do it. The fewer distractions, the better.

Want the ArtSpeak Team to Work on Your Ministry’s Logo?

When you get ArtSpeak Creative working on your brand, you get a team of top-notch artists as part of your team. 

Our writers absorb your brand and put it into words. Our graphic artists fill up sketchbooks with logo ideas then refine them, so you truly see the best options.

But in the end, the criteria isn’t how innovative or cool your logo is. Instead, your brand “assets” are just tools to help you reach more people.

Is your current brand already doing that for you? Does it feel like your ministry? Does it speak to those people you want to serve? 

If it isn’t, we should talk. 

Fill out the form below for a free 30-minute consultation, and one of our ArtSpeak Creative team members will be in touch.