All week I have been taking at look at some thoughts by Martin Lindstrom, a global branding guru and expert on consumer shopping behavior whose work is in demand by corporations worldwide. In his book Brand Sense, Lindstrom reveals how the world’s most successful companies and products integrate touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound with startling results.
Tapping into the complexity of our senses works in ChurchWorld, too.
An overview of Lindstrom’s Smash Your Brand philosophy was covered in this post. Posts here, here, and here looked at the first nine of these concepts. Today is the final set of three philosophies (out of twelve) and how they might be applied in ChurchWorld.
I will be using generic examples, but where appropriate, I will illustrate specific uses of the Smash Your Brand concepts used by my church – Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. A disclaimer: though I am involved in a volunteer leadership capacity, these observations are my own and have not been vetted by Elevation Church staff.
Here’s the final set of three.
Smash Your Service
The easy-return policies of Harrods in London and Nordstrom’s in the US are just one area of services that these retail legends have become justly famous for. Smashing your service is just as feasible as smashing all the other more tangible components shaping your brand. And since your service component is front-line with your customers, you can get instant feedback on how it is received.
ChurchWorld: But ChurchWorld doesn’t have a produce, you say – there’s no comparison. While ChurchWorld may not have a product to “sell”, it definitely is in the people “business” – with hundreds, if not thousands, of connections made each week. Strangers, friends, family – they are all people whom you come into contact with, and are a ministry opportunity. How you serve them – consistently – is a HUGE part of your brand.
Elevation Church: Relating again to the Code at Elevation (our values), we place a huge emphasis on honor, generosity, and excellence when it comes to serving. And that applies not only to our worship experiences on our campuses; it also applies to our outreach efforts in the community and around the world. One example: we are currently in a Code Orange Initiative establishing strategic relationships to eradicate homelessness in Charlotte; invest in our schools, teachers and students in Mecklenburg County; and improve the quality of life for all people in our city. The Initiative includes a goal of 100,000 hours of volunteer service and contributions of $750,000 to our partners. Service actions speak volumes to a watching world.
Smash Your Tradition
The stronger a tradition, the more smashable it becomes. In the commercial world, we just completed the Christmas holiday season, the most smashable time of the year. Think of the dozens of traditions associated with Christmas: music, food, celebration, family and friends, gifts, etc. When you interact with any one of them, you automatically connect to the greater whole of Christmas. And that’s just the world’s view of Christmas!
ChurchWorld: Long derided by ChurchWorld for the crass commercialization of Christmas, we nonetheless take part in a similar process. Starting with Thanksgiving, and proceeding through Advent to Christmas and then the New Year, churches of all shapes, sizes, and beliefs appropriate elements of the Christmas tradition for their own use. Music events and special worship experiences probably top the list. Does your church offer an event that represents the season but has come to be synonymous with your church?
Elevation Church: Elevation Church unashamedly takes full advantage of the Christmas season by offering multiple Christmas Eve services (in 2011, a total of 30 over 4 days). Likewise, at Easter, we go all out to celebrate the resurrection. We know that people’s minds and hearts are turned in that direction, and we want to capture the moment. But we also have other traditions (see Service above) that we are known for in our city.
Smash Your Rituals
Traditions and rituals are connected in some ways – organizations have traditions, and individuals take those traditions, and through their involvement, generate rituals. It’s something that you can’t necessarily plan for, but welcome when it happens. Sports fans have rituals focused on the game – and the commercial enterprises take advantage of it.
Church World: Rituals in ChurchWorld take on a different meaning most of the time, but the concept of ritual and branding can be applied as well. How often has an event or program been planned that, over time, has taken on a life of its own? That can be a positive or a negative. Can leaders in ChurchWorld easily develop and launch something, and then release it to the congregation to live – or die?
Elevation Church: As a former pastoral staff member, there is an aspect of Elevation’s ministry that I totally respect and am in awe of: the level of volunteer involvement. From the beginning, the paid staff at Elevation has always been lean, relying on a huge investment of time by volunteers. The excitement and passion of the staff readily transfer to volunteers, and voila: a ritual is born. The various eTeams (volunteers) at Elevation border on fanaticism at times (hopefully in a positive way). In the team I lead, and in other teams I observe, a strong sense of passion, commitment, and service has become a “ritual” that is inspiring not only to we who participate, but to those we service. When that happens, ritual as brand is powerful.
There you have it – a brief look at the concept of a Smash Your Brand philosophy, espoused by Martin Lindstrom in his book Brand Sense and translated to the possibilities in ChurchWorld.
Are you willing to give it a shot?