How a Church Can Collaborate With a Creative Agency

How a Church Can Collaborate With a Creative Agency

A Case Study of Northland Cathedral

By: Eric Hungerford | Church Branding Communications & Marketing Creativity Habits & Culture Ministry Branding

Lead pastors have a lot of demands put on them. Now, more than ever, the expectations of the abilities of pastors go well beyond the scope of what one leader can accomplish.

Recent world events have forced you to rethink everything. You’ve never felt the need to maximize your online communications like you do right now. You need help. The body of Christ needs to come together to win the battles ahead.

You don’t want to get burned by an expensive agency that won’t deliver what you need most. Look out for these abilities and qualities in an agency:

  1. Message refinement
  2. Fresh perspective
  3. Well-versed in communications
  4. Skilled, confident, & humble
  5. Balanced perspectives

Using Northland Cathedral as a case study, let’s dive in and cover the above points, one by one.

How a Church Can Collaborate With a Creative Agency

Message Refinement

Northland Cathedral came to us with some challenges to solve. They had a strong identity in their community, but as they looked at the future, they had an aspirational identity that they wanted to capture. They had some fuzzy ideas that needed to become more tangible, through branding. 

What about you? What is your reputation like among those whom you are reaching? How can we help the people in your audience take another look at this church thing?

Visuals are important. They certainly were for Northland Cathedral! But it all started with their message. We helped them refine that first, in their own voice. Their refined message became the foundation for everything else.

Not only can your refined message help you connect with your audience, but it can help you move from where you are to where you’re headed. Language creates culture. When you work with an agency, be sure to pick one that can help you craft your message well.

Fresh Perspective

Have you ever been frustrated by working with a graphic designer? Maybe they couldn’t quite hit the feel you were hoping for? What’s worse is that you were unable to put your visions into words. You don’t know how to bridge the language gap. Nor should you! Ultimately, it’s not really your fault, nor the designer’s. You may have experienced frustration because there were key pieces of missing communication. Because of this, you need to make sure you work with a team of consultants who can offer fresh perspective and best practices from a place of experience in the communication tools of today—the tools which you shouldn’t be expected to have to master.

Working with Northland Cathedral was truly collaborative. We offered perspectives from a team of creatives. They offered us what only they could give—their perspective on their own community. This led to a back-and-forth dynamic which culminated in a successful brand. 

Fresh perspective can go a long way for your message.

How a Church Can Collaborate With a Creative Agency

Well-versed in Communications

Church culture expects too much of pastors already. Now you’re expected to master the “tools of today,” such as social media and other forms of digital communications. 

For Northland Cathedral, we’re building a comprehensive “conversation” between the church and the future members. This conversation begins on social media, continues on their web site, and goes even deeper once guests become more and more involved with the church, and with Jesus. All of it is built on our framework, which you should know, whether you ever work with us or not. It’s called the Communication Triangle. We use it for everything.

If you’re reaching anyone, you’re communicating across cultural lines of division.

ArtSpeak is an agency built on the big idea of cross-cultural communication. You’ll want to be sure that the agency you  work with is versed in sound communication principles, and expertise about the communication tools of today. 

Why? So we can reach people. Together.

Skilled, Confident, & Humble

“Skilled” may be a no-brainer. Competence is what’s in view with this quality. You’ll need that, of course. The next two qualities may be less obvious. You’ll want to make sure that these qualities are deep in the culture of the agency you’re working with. Confidence is the quality which will compel the creative team to offer experience-grounded suggestions. If you find yourself working with a creative person who does not take the initiative to offer helpful suggestions, you may be in for some frustration. However, no one knows your people, your community, or your challenges like you do. Because of this, creative team members who are self-important primadonnas will be toxic in any project. They need to exemplify the humility that will lead to true collaboration.

That’s exactly what unfolded as we worked with Northland Cathedral. They made some decisions that we as designers weren’t thrilled about, such as using their former logo. But in hindsight, we can see that it was a great call, and the elements of the brand came together quite nicely, in a strong, life-giving, unified expression.

How a Church Can Collaborate With a Creative Agency

It turned out, we were wrong. Very wrong.

One of our greatest learning experiences with Northland Cathedral was the Mood Board call. It turns out we went down a whole different direction than they wanted to go. The problem? We had not yet keyed in on the fact that they wanted us to design their aspirational identity more so than their current identity. We needed their help navigating what that looked like. This required our team to humble ourselves, and tune into the needs of Northland Cathedral. No one knows their situation like they do. We needed their expertise, and they needed ours. Genuine collaboration was the only way.

So we were wrong, but it was ok. We caught it early and corrected our course. A strong creative team will have the wherewithal to course-correct before the project gets too far down a specific path. 

Skilled. Confident. Humble.

Balanced Perspectives

When we reviewed the Northland Cathedral project, Uriah, the art director, indicated that he was pushed by his team when he didn’t want to be. I think we can all relate. However, in hindsight, Uriah was glad that he was pushed. Because of the strength and balanced perspectives of a team with diverse perspectives and skill-sets, Northland Cathedral was better able to express the best parts of their identity, and their aspirational identity.

In the end, the collaboration with Northland Cathedral was a success. They’re using their clarified message and fresh style to connect with new people who need to be close to Jesus.  

What about you? 

What’s your next step? 

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