Branding like the church makes Sense

This posting originally written for Sticky Sheep

I’ve been reading one of my latest impulse book buys. “Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy” by Martin Lindstrom. It’s basically a book talking about the importance of integrating the many senses into a branding of a company/product etc. This interested me because I know that for many people the church has the potential for a rich environment. In setting up and leading many contemplative worship experiences over the past decade I have had many responses of “this reminds me so much of…” where a participant has those subconscious triggers, nostalgia kicks in, and the overall experience is elevated. They then ask a next question “how can we do this again?”

So it wasn’t so much a surprise, but a great affirmation to read up some of Martin’s thoughts on branding sense & the church.

“Without taking comparisons to religion to far, we can see the relevance of spirituality for certain aspects of sensory branding. The most memorable, savored brands of the future will be those that not only anchor themselves in tradition, but also adopt religious characteristics as they simultaneously make full, integrated use of sensory branding-period. Each fully integrated brand will boast its own identity, one that’s expressed in its every message, shape, symbol, ritual, and tradition-just as sports teams and religion do.”

Lindstrom goes on from there & weaves through the book the idea of religious integration. I don’t think he’s actually attuned to life in the church and the traditions to know what are the things that make ‘sense’ (or he is totally avoiding the religion comparisons to stay away from a potential hot button topic).

I visited with one of the new pastors in town a month or so back. He showed me the sanctuary at his brand new built church (renovated movie theater) and he called it the “main experience room.” I thought to myself, “experience?” What experience do you have here? Sure as a church you hope to have an experience where people engage God in some manner. However, what is special about the environments of the church that help people ‘sense’ God and fully engage their experience? How can the church go about emphasizing some of these branded sensory experiences? Certainly Len Sweet has been preaching his E.P.I.C. model for years which can flow into this, but for those who haven’t been listening to Len my short list.

  • Smell? Incense, candles, hymnals, wood floors, etc.
  • Visuals? Banners, cross, projections, cleanliness, used, robes, candles, architecture, etc.
  • Touch? hugs, passing peace, fellowship, prayer book, hymnals, pews, etc.
  • Taste? Communion/Eucharist etc.
  • Hear? Music, sermon, screaming baby, sneezing, etc.

As the workplace goes, what is the end result you wish for consumers to experience? What are the sensory items ingrained already in the tradition of your work? How can you expand those? What are new ways to take the sensory route to branding your end experience?

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