How to Reach More People with Your Message

How to Reach More People with Your Message

The Complete ArtSpeak Branding Process

Kirk Hadden | June 18, 2020 | branding Church Branding Church Marketing Church Plant

Can people hear what you communicate?

If you are trying to do deep, spiritual, life-changing work in people’s lives, your message is critical. It has the power to revolutionize lives now and for eternity.

That’s why we do this.  at our core, we’re a communications company. We help people like you transmit your message to those who need it most.

That’s a complicated task, and it doesn’t happen by “pumping your message” out there through social media. You must present your message in a way others are able to: 

  • Catch it
  • Perceive it
  • Hear it
  • Understand it
  • Receive it

Helping you communicate is core to everything that we do. That’s the purpose of the ArtSpeak branding process.

What is church and ministry branding? 

Branding is what people think about you when you’re not around. It’s your reputation. It is that collective understanding—both conscious and unconscious—that people have about you. And in that sense, you have a brand, whether you think you do or not.

You could leave it that way, but then you have no control over how people perceive what you communicate. Or you can be intentional about it—and that’s what the branding process is all about.

The Church has 2000 years of history with sometimes shining lights but also grievous darkness. The Church has a branding problem

When your audience hears the word “church”, their brain loads all 2000 years of history the learned in school, everything their parents, their friends, and their professors told them about church, and their own experiences from childhood to present. Their brain uses that data to subconsciously construct a picture of “church.” If they aren’t connected to a church right now, its probably because its not a pretty picture.  

We need to overcome the gap of past negative experiences so that by the time the message reaches the eyes and ears of those who need to hear it, they accept it with their minds and hearts. 

So they take a moment to lean in and say, Wait—this is worth listening to. 

So, now let’s dive into some overarching principles of the way we approach communication and branding. Then, we’ll walk through an overview of our branding process.

How to Reach More People with Your Message

The Communication Triangle

The Communication Triangle is a simple way to visualize and organize a communication challenge of any kind. (Check out the book Rethink Communication: A Playbook to Clarify and Communicate Everything in Your Church by Phil Bowdle if you want to understand this subject more deeply.)

On the bottom, left-hand side of the triangle is the “organization’s identity.” That’s you. To communicate effectively, you first have to know who you are, what you want, and what you value. On the bottom right corner is the “audience.” If you don’t know who they are, you won’t know how to get your message to them. 

Separating you and your audience is your reputation. That reputation could be a benefit, but it could also be a huge obstacle. 

As communicators, we need to know what’s there. It will give us an idea of what we need to overcome so the audience will receive the message.

At the top of the triangle is a Venn diagram. On the left are your vision and mission. This what you want for yourselves and your audience. 

The audience has its own set of hopes, fears, and desires, represented by the circle on the left. The reality is this: If you want to talk to your audience, you’re going to have to talk about something they want. They don’t care what you want, and they don’t care what you have to say. They don’t even care who you are until you start talking about something that they want. 

And so if we’re going to craft a message that overcomes the obstacles in between “us” and “them” with empathy, we have to talk to them about something they want.

When we can find the space where “what we want for your audience” overlaps with “what your audience wants for themselves,” you have your message! The next challenge is to find the words and visual elements that will communicate that message on an emotional level.

To do this, we have a process that occurs over three phases:

  • Strategic Messaging
  • Visual Brand Development
  • Brand Implementation

Here’s our process, start to finish.

Phase I: Strategic Messaging

Part 1: Discovery

We start with a Discovery Questionnaire, a carefully engineered document that will help you get down the details that will fill in your unique communication triangle. (Download a free, slightly abbreviated, copy here.)

This document asks some pretty deep questions. We’ve had clients get those questions and then say, “Oh, wow, we’re going to have to hit pause in this whole process! We need to figure out the answers to these questions!” 

Because believe it or not, some organizations don’t have a clear understanding of why they exist, where they want to go, or what they want for their audience. This questionnaire will help!

When we receive the completed branding questionnaire, the next step is a Discovery Call. Sometimes, we’ll fly to their location and spend an entire weekend with them.

We do this for organizations of all kinds, but for churches, our onsite visits include: 

  • Arriving on a Saturday
  • Meeting with the leadership team
  • Experiencing Sunday church services

During this visit, we try to meet as many people as we can. Whether it’s one-on-one or in groups, we come prepared with questions to help us in our research. After we meet with our client’s community, we go over our research, filled-out questionnaires, and a subsequent conversation. In that conversation, we ask even more questions!

Then, we’re going to do some more research.

For churches, we’ll typically pull a demographics report. It will give us all kinds of information about the: 

  • Faith receptivity in the area
  • Socioeconomic data
  • Their racial makeup
  • Other data points that will help us judge how to reach their community

For organizations that aren’t geography-based, we’ll conduct a survey or interviews. We’ll also research similar brands, seeking to understand how to learn from those other brands as well as what to avoid when we design for you.

Part 2: Messaging Blueprint

We take all the information we gathered through the discovery process and put it into a “Messaging Blueprint” — the tool we use to fill out the entire Communication Triangle. We’ll take some of the words directly from your questionnaire. We might also massage some of them for clarity. 

More still will be completely original work that will become a crucial part of your “brand identity.”

When it comes to your organization’s identity, the Messaging Blueprint includes your: 

  • Core Values
  • Key Phrases
  • Distinctives and Advantages
  • Mission and Vision
  • Measurable Indicators of Success
  • Reputation
  • Pulse Words (more on what those are below)

We help you identify who your audience is through:

  • Narrowing down a target audience
  • Often creating a persona for that person
  • Drawing out who your secondary audiences are
  • Identifying their hopes, fears, and challenges

Finally, to help you refine your organization’s message to the world, we:

  • Convert the hopes and fears you hope to address for your audience into Value Propositions
  • Write a Brand Promise, which is a summary of all of your Value Propositions
  • Develop a Core Story — your audience’s and their journey to engage with your organization (more on that below)
  • Create a One-Liner, aka your elevator pitch

Two pieces of the Messaging Blueprint deserve special attention.

First, your Pulse Words capture the essence of your brand message in a series of words and phrases that inspire your brand’s visual interpretation. These words won’t become outward-facing messaging, but we use them to get the right “feel” from our designers.

Second, your Core Story isn’t actually your story. It’s your audience’s hero’s journey from their felt pains and fears to their hopes and success with your help and guidance. It condenses the interactions of your identity, vision, audience, and message into a single story designed for emotional connection.

Our Core Story take their cue from StoryBrand’s “Brand Story” (using Donald Miller’s excellent framework), but there’s a little more to it. Since we’re working with ministries specifically, most of our Core Stories go very deep, hitting on some of the primary issues of life. 

One bonus is this: They often work well as a video script, too!

Phase II: Visual Brand Development

By the time we reach Phase II, our artists go to work. They take the Messaging Blueprint and translate it into the logo, colors, and typography to help your intended audience listen to everything you have to say.

Part 1: Mood Board

One of our designers will create a Mood Board to kick off Phase II. A Mood Board is a Pinterest Board we create with pre-existing images we think may “feel” like your brand. They’re highly influenced by the Pulse Words, along with our knowledge of your organization’s culture and audience. 

Then, we get on a Zoom call, show you what we chose, and listen for your reactions. We’re most interested in hearing what you love and what you hate. That way, we don’t put hours into creating a look, only to find out it doesn’t even come close to something you like!

This is a huge time-saver. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know you and your tastes better. 

Part 2: Logo

One of our ArtSpeak Core Values is “expansion, then contraction.” We usually have several artists working on your logo, ideating and inspiring each other to find new and creative ways to  express your brand visually. 

A team of artists will fill up as many sketchbook pages as they can with both good and bad ideas. Often, a good idea is merely a combination of several bad ideas! 

Then we’re going to contract. We’re going to find the best ideas, refine them, present them, and go through a few rounds of revisions until we hit the mark for you.

Part 3: Style Overview

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:

  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Design elements
  • Photography
  • Patterns and textures

Phase III: Brand Implementation

Finally, we give you all the tools to help you implement both your Messaging Blueprint and Visual Brand.

Social Media Starter Kit

We give you branded templates in Photoshop or Canva so you can refresh everything you do on social media. We create:

  • Avatars
  • Cover images
  • Social graphics for events, quotes, or carousels

Even if an organization doesn’t have an internal design staff, they only need Photoshop or Canva to start making impressive-looking graphics.

Brand Guide

This is the capstone of the entire branding process. A Brand Guide is usually about twenty pages long and includes everything that says “your brand.”

What are you communicating?

In the coming weeks, we’re going to dive in and draw out how each of these parts of the ArtSpeak branding process works and how it can help you reach more people effectively. 

We work this process every day and absolutely love it. We also love the results—churches and other organizations are finally able to express who they truly are through graphics and words.

But if you’re not ready to start the branding process with us, consider following the above steps to clarify your message. We just want to help you reach people. Anyone can follow these steps to create a clearer and more cohesive message.

But if you want to talk with us about how we can help your organization, reach out! We enjoy talking about this process, finding ways to help you touch more lives with the message God gave you.

Fill out the form below and let’s talk.
How to Reach More People with Your Message
Download: The Communication Triangle

DOWNLOAD: Get a Head Start

If you are trying to do deep, spiritual, life-changing work in people’s lives, your message is critical. It has the power to revolutionize lives now and for eternity. Use this triangle as an exercise to gain the clarity you need to craft your message and reach people through the noise.