Communicate Your Vision Visually Using a Brand Toolbox

With so many messages competing for people’s attention, how can you most effectively tell your church’s story?

Every day, your church stewards thousands of moments of truth. Every time a member talks to a neighbor, someone drives by the church facility, a ministry email goes out, a pastor’s business card is left on a desk, some interaction on behalf of the church has transpired. Every time these events happen, the church’s vision grows brighter or dims in the tiniest little increments.

The leader’s role is to crank up the wattage.


Solution: Communicate vision visually using a brand toolbox

THE QUICK SUMMARY – What Great Brands Do, by Denise Lee Yohn

It’s tempting to believe that brands like Apple, Nike, and Zappos achieved their iconic statuses because of serendipity, an unattainable magic formula, or even the genius of a single visionary leader. However, these companies all adopted specific approaches and principles that transformed their ordinary brands into industry leaders. In other words, great brands can be built–and Denise Lee Yohn knows exactly how to do it.

Delivering a fresh perspective, Yohn’s What Great Brands Do teaches an innovative brand-as-business strategy that enhances brand identity while boosting profit margins, improving company culture, and creating stronger stakeholder relationships. Drawing from 25 years of consulting work with such top brands as Frito-Lay, Sony, Nautica, and Burger King, Yohn explains key principles of her brand-as-business strategy.

Filled with targeted guidance for CEOs, COOs, entrepreneurs, and other organization leaders, What Great Brands Do is an essential blueprint for launching any brand to meteoric heights.


Spotting an exceptional brand is easy, but building an exceptional brand can be one of the most challenging and elusive tasks organizations face. This task is even more difficult for churches, where “brand” is often seen as a four-letter word.

At its most simple form, though, a brand is really the personality of an organization, and it should guide every action of the organization. Your corporate culture is your brand’s foundation.

Unless and until your culture is expressed clearly through your customer experience, you have nothing worth communicating. Your brand can’t just be a promise; it must be a promise delivered. So your starting point is cultivating a strong internal corporate culture that aligns and integrates with your brand.

Great brands use culture branding to educate – to help employees understand what a brand is and why it’s important. They use it to define – to explain what the brand stands for and how it is differentiating. They use it to activate – to help people understand their own impact on brand perceptions and therefore what is expected of them.

The challenge then becomes what I often call the “head + heart + hands and feet” problem. For your employees to understand, embrace, and deliver your brand, they need to know its values in their heads, feel inspired by them in their hearts, and then put them into action with their hands and feet.

Operationalizing your brand through organizational culture requires a focus on design, empowerment, and impact. You want to design the organization and its business model so it delivers on the brand values and attributes. You want to empower your people with the tools and resources to infuse the brand into their day-to-day decisions and behaviors. Finally, you want to make such a positive impact on your employees’ lives and their careers that they support your brand’s message and mission because they know their own destinies and your brand’s destiny are intertwined.

I often work with clients to build a “Brand Toolbox” of content and decision guides to drive the approaches and behaviors needed to operationalize their brand values. The Brand Toolbox informs managers and employees by communicating what the brand platform is and by providing principles to guide brand execution. It also inspires people with images, stories, and quotes. It gets them excited about the brand and motivates them to change their behavior in support of it.

Denise Lee Yohn, What Great Brands Do


Your brand is much more than a marketing tool. It must be a guiding compass for your organization and strategy.

We have all heard the expression that having the right tools makes the job easier. Providing your church with the right tools is no different. With a well-developed Brand Toolbox you will empower leaders, build culture, and guide daily decision-making.

Your brand is not simply a logo or a great looking brochure. Your brand is a verb. It is action; it is every experience people have with your organization – your church – every day through everything you say and do. It is your culture, your ethos. It is every touch-point. It is about building a relationship and making an emotional connection with people in your church and with people outside your church.

To build a strong brand you must first Start Inside with a clear understanding of your church’s identity and a strategy that aligns all communication. This is essential for executing your brand through a “focus on design, empowerment, and impact.”

Your Brand Toolbox is freeing and will help you simplify your communication.

How complete is your Brand Toolbox?

How far along are you in giving your team the tools necessary for building culture? Determine which number describes how complete your toolbox is:

  1. We have an empty toolbox.
  2. We have an explanation of our brand strategy along with the background and rationale so that everyone can understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, and definitions of key terms so everyone grasps the meaning behind the words.
  3. We have principles and guidelines for delivering brand values and attributes at key touchpoints between our brand and the outside world.
  4. We have sample applications for how the brand should be expressed and delivered.
  5. We have guides that walk people through important decisions, along with outlines that map processes so that people lean how to do things on brand.

If you are not satisfied with your Brand Toolbox, make an action plan for taking your toolbox to the next level of completion. Remember, Starting Inside is about execution and integrating your identity into your culture. The Toolbox must be shared and accessible as part of your leadership development at every level.

If you would like information on developing a Brand Toolbox, connect with Auxano’s design team.

Closing Thoughts

With the Gospel at the center of everything we do, the church, by its nature, is a message-centric organization. Jesus, the greatest story-teller of all time knew, before science showed us, that people are simply hard-wired to respond to story and images. And today’s world is becoming ever-increasingly visual, with selfies, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Consider this: there are hundreds of little moments of truth – touchpoints of connectivity – that happen each day.

Each of these are opportunities to share the message of the gospel. Are you going to make them or miss them?

Just by being more intentional with your brand, you really can capture more “makes” than “misses.”

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 26-1, October, 2015

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.


Favorite Books of 2014, Part 1

It’s time to close out the reading year – just in time to start a new one!

A quick review of the numbers:

  • Purchased or review copies of books – 93
  • Library books checked out – 91
  • Kindle books downloaded – 55

That’s 239 books read in 2014, averaging over 4 a week. I’m not a speed-reader per se, but I do read fast – and I don’t read everything in every book.

Of course, reading is a big part of my role as Vision Room Curator at Auxano, so that gives me a definite advantage! Reading is also my main hobby, so even my “down” time often finds me with a book in hand.

In no particular order, here are the first 7 of my 14 favorite books published in 2014.

You can read the rest of the list tomorrow.

I realize this is a very arbitrary list, and has several books that may not seem like leadership books. No apologies there – I happen to believe that leaders in organizations of every size and type have a LOT to learn about their customers (all organizations have customers – we just call them different names). I also believe that all organizations need leaders who are creative and innovative in all areas. Finally, I believe that organizations need leaders who understand the power of simplicity.

Curious? If you’re interested in more than just the title, read on!

WhatGreatBrandsDoWhat Great Brands Do, Denise Lee Yohn

Some business leaders think of brands only in terms of messages and marketing tactics because that’s all they know. Others want a quick fix and would rather change what they say about themselves rather than actually change. Still others understand the full business value of a brand but lack the tools and methods to realize it. What Great Brands Do by Denise Lee Yohn will educate the first group, persuade the second, and equip the last.

MomentsofImpactMoments of Impact, Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon

Great strategic conversations generate breakthrough insights by combining the best ideas of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. In this book, Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon “crack the code” on what it takes to design creative, collaborative problem-solving sessions that soar rather than sink.

CreativityInc2Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

EssentialismEssentialism, Greg McKeown

The Way of the Essentialist by Greg McKeown isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

46RulesofGeniusThe 46 Rules of Genius, Marty Neumeier

There’s no such thing as an accidental genius. Anyone who’s reached that exalted state has arrived there by design. But simply wanting to get there is not enough. A would-be genius also needs a theoretical framework, a basic compass, a set of principles to guide the way forward.

Marty Neumeier, acclaimed author of The Brand Gap and Metaskills, has compressed the wisdom of the ages into the first “quick start guide” for genius46 glittering gems that will light your path to creative brilliance. This is THE essential handbook for designers, entrepreneurs, marketers, educators, artists, scientists, innovators, and future leaders in every field.

BriefBrief, Joseph McCormack

Author Joe McCormack tackles the challenges of inattention, interruptions, and impatience that every professional faces. His proven B.R.I.E.F. approach, which stands for Background, Relevance, Information, Ending, and Follow up, helps simplify and clarify complex communication. BRIEF will help you summarize lengthy information, tell a short story, harness the power of infographics and videos, and turn monologue presentations into controlled conversations.

HowTheWorldSeesYouHow the World Sees You, Sally Hogshead

You already know how you see the world.
But do you know how the world sees you?
How is your personality most likely to impress and influence the person sitting on the other side of the desk or boardroom?

Once you know what makes you valuable to others, you’re more authentic and confident, and more able to make a positive impression. It all begins with understanding how the world sees you—at your best. How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead gives you the step-by-step method to describe yourself in just two or three words. This short phrase is your Anthem, the tagline for your personality. Your Anthem guides you like a mission statement, helping you to build your team, write a LinkedIn profile, or captivate an audience.

That’s the first 7 of my 14 favorite books published in 2014. Tomorrow I will list the final 7.