What Does Your Church Brand Say?

What do the following have in common?

Uncle Ben, Charlie the Tuna, Morris the Cat, Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and the Marlboro Man.

You probably guessed that they are all advertising characters. But did you know they were all created by the same man, Leo Burnett?

In 1943, Burnett met for lunch with Forrest Mars, who had just bought the rights for a new milling process for rice and was looking to market to a wartime economy. Mars had already settled on the name of the product – Uncle Ben’s Converted Brand Rice, named after the owner of the farm that was supplying the rice.

During their lunch, Mars told Burnett he wanted every home in America cooking Uncle Ben’s rice for dinner – even though rice accounted for less than 10 percent of the nation’s starch consumption at the time.

Burnett considered Mars’ ambitious goal, then pointed to the dignified gentleman serving them and said, “If you want everybody eating your rice, you better have somebody real friendly like him serving it.”

Mars took one look at the broad-grinned, slightly balding black man who had been serving them and called him to the table. He made an offer for the man to sit for a portrait, telling him only that he wanted all rights to the picture. The waiter agreed, and in January 1944 Forrest Mars introduced the nation to the now familiar orange box with the picture of “Uncle Ben.”

Burnett believed in selling products with strong yet simple imagery that spoke to people in a friendly manner. His philosophy, later called the “Chicago School,” went on to have a huge impact on American branding.

It’s a great, true story – but what does it mean for leaders in ChurchWorld?

Branding is simply how your church builds relationships with communication tools.

If you want to know more about the concept of branding for churches, start here with an introductory post by Will Mancini on “The Three Branding Strategies for Churches.”

If you want to have a conversation with a talented church design team, learn more about Auxano Design here.

Your church has a brand – even if you don’t know it. Shouldn’t you be the one shaping your brand?

Leaders Should be Students of History

Usually the word “history” elicits one of two responses: a glassy-eyed stare and memories of those required classes in school that were mind-numbing, or an excited look followed by the phrase “Did you know that…”

I, proudly, am guilty of the latter.

Not content to read and study “normal” history (both my undergraduate and graduate minors are in history), I default to the obscure and strange. Who else would read books on the history of salt – or the history of dust – or the history of cod. Yes, cod. The little fish, that when salted, kept it edible for long sea voyages, allowing the “discovery” of the Americas by Europeans, among other uses (that’s a two-for-one use of history, in case you didn’t notice).

Leaders need to understand history, too.

Not just the history of books, though that’s a great start. Leaders in the local church need to know the history of the people and place they are serving. Only by understanding the past can you ever hope to lead to the future. Will Mancini, author of Church Unique and founder of Auxano, calls that “vision equity.” It’s the stories and actions over the years that have led that church to the place it is today. It’s the solid foundation that tomorrow is built on. To be ignorant of it or to ignore it is an invitation to mediocrity at best, or disaster at worst.

There is history in a place, too. Last week I was onsite for a Guest Perspective Evaluation at Cape Christian Fellowship in Cape Coral, FL. During my Saturday evening walk around of the campus, I was struck by the visual and audible impact of 3 existing water features, and 1 more in the construction phase:

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A simple aeration spray in the lake on the edge of the property.

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This beautiful waterfall is at the edge a a large grassy play area by the children’s building.

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This water jet fountain is the first thing you see on the path from the parking lots to the worship center.

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Fellowship Park, under construction. The splash fountains in the center circle will be a kids and family magnet.

These water features are part of the history – past, present, and future – of Cape Christian. They are telling a powerful story in the community.

History is a rock. Not an anchor to the past, but a bridge to the future.

Are you a student of the history of the people and place you serve? If not, there’s still time.

Class starts today.

 

Transformation Agenda

Continuing the transformation journey at Starbucks – and what it can teach your organization…

Once Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz decided to return as CEO, he pulled together a team to began working on the process of turning the company’s performance around.

As noted in this post, one of the team’s key realizations was the need to focus on the ones: one cup of coffee, served to one customer, at one store. That thought drove the team to draft a transformation agenda that would be used company-wide to implement decisions.

The Transformation Agenda started with a compelling strategic vision, and was followed by a backbone of seven big moves, each with specific tactics. Here’s a synopsis:

Our Aspiration – To become and enduring, great company with one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world, known for inspiring and nurturing the human spirit.

courtesy touchworldwide.com

courtesy touchworldwide.com

Seven Big Moves

  • Be the undisputed coffee authority – Starbucks could not possibly transform the company if they did not excel and lead in their core business. Focusing on their quality and passion they exhibit in sourcing, roasting, and brewing coffee, actions included improving the quality and delivery of espresso drinks, reinventing brewed coffee, delivering innovative beverages, and increase the share of the at-home market. Undergirding all these actions was the push to continue telling their story.
  • Engage and inspire their partners – Every Starbucks partner (employee) should be passionate about coffee – from soil to cup – and possess the skills, enthusiasm, and permission to share that expertise with customers. Actions included significantly improving training and career development for partners at all levels as well as developing meaningful and groundbreaking compensation, benefit, and incentive packages for partners.
  • Ignite the emotional attachment with their customers – People come to Starbucks for coffee and human connection. Their goal was to put customers back in the center of the experience by addressing their needs, providing the “value” in a manner congruent with the brand, and developing programs that recognize and reward the most loyal customers. In the stores, that meant achieving operational excellence, finding new ways to deliver world-class customer service and perfect beverages while keeping costs in line and retail partners engaged.
  • Expand their global presence-while making each store the heart of the local neighborhood – The challenge was to grow their retail presence while striving to connect with and support the neighborhoods and cultures that each store serves. Enhancing local relevancy would mean redesigning existing and new stores, offering new products that reflected the tastes of particular cultures, and reaching out by volunteering or fund-raising to support local programs and causes.
  • Be a leader in ethical sourcing and environmental impact – Starbucks has led the way in treating farmers with respect and dignity. These efforts would expand, strengthening existing partnerships and forging new ones. They also have a goal of reducing each store’s environmental footprint and sharing their initiatives with others.
  • Create innovative growth platforms worthy of their coffee – Starbucks would grow not just by adding stores and selling coffee, buy also by extending its brand and/or expertise to new product platforms expanding or complementing coffee, such as tea, cold beverages, instant coffee, food, and the booming health and wellness market. Innovation that was relevant to their core values would be the hallmark of their transformation.
  • Deliver a sustainable economic model – Without a profitable business model, Big Moves 1-6 would not be possible. It was imperative that the refocus on customers and core also be matched by an improvement on how they operated their business. Creating a culture that drove quality and speed, managing expenses on an ongoing basis, reducing costs, and building a world-class supply chain would be the primary tactics in this area. Big Move 7 would be the most painful, least sexy, and most difficult part of transforming the company.

Launched at a global summit of 200 of Starbucks’ most senior leaders from around the world, the Transformation Agenda was in Schultz’s words “to make sure that we level set the reason we exist.”

courtesy nbcnews.com

courtesy nbcnews.com

Schultz felt ultimately that the summit helped align Starbucks’ top global leaders around two very important statements: the Transformation Agenda, which outlined what everyone at Starbucks needed to do, and the mission statement, which reminded them why.

Lessons for ChurchWorld Leaders:

  • Do you know what you are doing?
  • Do you why you are doing it?
  • Do you know how you are doing it?
  • Do you know when you are successful?
  • Do you know where God is taking you?

For a better understanding of these questions in terms of your church, take a look at the Church Unique Visual Summary here, or download it here as a free e-book.

It might just be the start of your own Transformation Agenda.

an updated post from a series reviewing Onward, by Howard Shultz

Onward

preparation for a new series coming soon on Leading the Starbucks Way, by Joseph Michelli

Print

The Vision Room Launches Today

Auxano’s Vision Room goes live today.

For almost as long as I have known Will Mancini, he has dreamed of the Vision Room. When I first met him in 2008 at a conference we were both speaking at (courtesy of Karen Butler, editor of Church Solutions magazine), he was talking about it.

In dozens of conversations since then, he has continued to talk about it.

In February of this year, he was still talking about it – and in the same breath, asking me to join Auxano as the Vision Room Curator.

I’m still like a kid in a candy store about that…but, here it is:

You can read Will’s official welcome to the Vision Room here.

You can read my initial take on being the Vision Room Curator here.

Of course, I’m sure that will be changing as the dream has become reality…

But for now, the Vision Room is live and

 

Come on in, look around, but just don’t be a Guest – register your own MyVisionRoom and let me know what you think.

Clarity is Audible

When you read or hear the word “clarity”, the odds are that your next thoughts have something to do with vision, imagery, or similar metaphors.

Will Mancini, author of “Church Unique” and founder of the consulting group Auxano, refers to himself as a “clarity evangelist.” One of the central tenants of his work is clarity, and he uses powerful visual images to illustrate.

The concepts of clarity are a regular part of my conversations with churches. In the last month, I have talked about clarity with large and small churches; rural and urban churches; traditional and contemporary churches. Clarity transcends all these groupings as a necessary ingredient of successful churches.

In the midst of all this conversation about clarity, a comment was made to me that literally stopped me in my tracks:

Clarity is audible, too

This astute and wise church leader was telling me that our words – verbally – were very important in his context, maybe even more so than images and other visual elements. He demonstrated this the next day in a powerful, passionate sermon that was a masterpiece of the spoken word. He schooled me though the use of:

  • The dynamics of voice
  • Volume
  • Inflection
  • Pacing and tempo
  • Eliminating verbal graffiti

Leaders who communicate with clarity radiate passion, conviction, and enthusiasm – and people respond.

Leadership = Vision Clarity

When I was in graduate school in the early 80’s, strategic planning processes included five-, ten- and sometimes even twenty-year plans. The past was relatively stable and indicated that things would continue as they were into the future. The assumption was that the near future would resemble the recent past. Rapid cultural, technological, and geopolitical change has rendered that assumption obsolete.

Will Mancini, founder of Auxano and author of the best-selling book Church Unique states it this way:

Leaders must focus more on preparation than on planning.

Mancini taps heavily into Reggie McNeal’s work here. McNeal, a consultant with The Leadership Network, has written several great books. In The Present Future he addresses 6 tough questions for the church. The one of interest here is “How do we plan for the future?” The short answer is, as both Mancini and McNeal elaborate, you don’t plan – you prepare.

Planning on past actions and assumptions will lead you to cultural irrelevance, methodological obsolescence, and missional ineffectiveness. Churches looking to planning like they always have will be left answering the wrong questions at best; at worst, they will be answering questions not asked!

Church Unique is not a road map that assumes predictability of fixed points and roads that stay unchanged over time. Instead, the tools of Church Unique are more like the compass, sextant, and chronometer of the sailor who moves across an ever-changing sea. Navigating the waters of today’s rapidly changing times requires ceaseless observation and adaptation to the surrounding environment. The better (and biblical) approach to the future involves prayer and preparation, not prediction and planning.

As a leader, are you seeking vision clarity first?

>>Download a free summary of Church Unique here.

>>Download a free summary of The Present Future here.

Got Clarity?

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. – the Cheshire Cat

Where’s your red X?
You know, the spot that says “You are here.”

Looking for the shortest distance between Point A and Point B?

The answers to the above questions aren’t in Will Mancini’s Visual Summary to his book “Church Unique,” but you will be able to grasp the process that just might answer the tough questions you’re facing today.

Take a look.

Download the free e-book.

Start out on the journey…

…today!

If you are the Exponential Conference today and would like a free copy of The Visual Summary, show this post or a Tweet related to it to the guys at the Auxano booth near the Worship Center entrance (while supplies last).