Monday, December 27, 2010

Why advertising is a waste, focus on your brand instead

I have a love/hate relationship with advertising. Mostly, I think it's crap. Rather, our expectations of what advertising can do are crap. Apparently the modern American is bombarded by something like 4,000-5,000 advertising messages a day, but how many effective ones? How many get deep into our soul and connect with us on some other level besides our recognition of the humor in a commercial or the basic emotions pulled from known design elements?

Do you really care about a product's logo? I mean, really? Are you reading this post from a piece of machinery that you purchased solely because of the icon plastered onto it? Maybe, if you're on a mac you may be a brand enthusiast...but I bet you if apple suddenly changed its logo to a humpback whale eating a can of spam you'd probably still like their it isn't the logo now is it?


Because you're sold on their brand. Not on their advertising. Sure, the advertising helps, don't get me wrong. But if you're anything like me, you care far more about the integrity of the product...and that's their brand.

I think it's far too easy for us in the church to get stuck on the marketing of ourselves & our product (be it a class, program, service, series, book, dvd, or a church itself) and overlook the more important element of what makes marketing actually stick: the brand you're trying to sell. Apple wouldn't be worth half a crap if their products were garbage and they still had a slick logo. But because of the strength of their actual brand (not the advertising supplementing it) they are one of the largest and most profitable companies in existence.

It's all about advertising vs branding

Advertising, to me, is what we say our product is about:

  • Logos

  • Catchphrases & slogans

  • Designs

  • Pitches, and other canned phrases that just don't have any real meaning behind them & you can't imagine a breathing human thinking it...let alone saying it

But instead, the brand is entirely what everyone else says our product is about. What it really means to them; the conversations people actually have. Think for a second, when's the last time you actually talked about a company and used their slogan or catchphrase in a serious way? I'd have to think real hard before I came up with one.

So what's our brand?

I think a church's "brand" is incredibly important. It really does matter what people are saying about you (if they're not just trolls) because it reflects directly upon experiences people have had with your church. I think we should be striving to have an incredibly strong brand...not for the sake of people "talking up" our church, but because our brand represents Jesus himself.

If people say we are hypocritical, judgmental, arrogant, fake, religious, irrelevant, ungracious & unloving chumps...what does that say of the God we represent?

But instead, if as believers and as a church our actual brand is identified with compassion, acceptance, grace, forgiveness, authenticity, transparency, truthfulness, relevance, community, self-sacrifice, humility & love...that will speak very loudly to people who are 'outside' of our niche.

Don't you think that brand is much stickier than an advertising campaign aimed at trying to make people think we are those things? I sure do.

And I need to figure out how to focus my energy on brand development instead of advertising campaigns. Sadly for me, it's much easier to get stuck on the advertising instead of the branding. Brand development takes work. It takes relationships. It takes time. Advertising takes a computer, a designer and some cash. Done.

You know what I'm talking about? Have you felt that tension of a company (or a church's) true brand not matching their marketing/advertising?