There are 3 concepts that I’ve seen confused in the communications world.  Sometimes they’re used interchangeably and sometimes they’re not used at all. I’ve found that the most effective communication strategies, whether in church or in business, come from teams who have figured out how to distinguish them.

Here’s how I would define and describe these 3 categories: Branding, Marketing and Advertising.  (Side note: I’m not suggesting these are universally true definitions – like straight of our Websters Dictionary – but for me, this is how I describe these concepts in a distinguishable way)

1. Branding:

A representation of your core values.  These are the ‘soft’ (intangible) concepts that make your church unique.  Often these are called your core values – maybe the presence of God, relationships, scripture, missions, community, joy, professionalism, excellence, etc.)  This the what you want people to think about your church after they’ve experienced it.

Branding is like the center of your target – the bullseye.  Without this, how would you know where to aim?

2. Marketing:

How you live out or create an experience that lets people recognize what your branding is.  It’s the next ring in your target that points people to your branding (values).

Examples:

If your branding is that you value scripture, then your marketing may be that you have scripture decals on the walls of your entrance area, or that you have a daily bible reading guide in your bulletin.

If your brand is that you value relationships, then your marketing may be that you have a monthly potluck, or that you have small groups, or your church coffee shop has lots of tables to sit and build relationships.

if your brand is prayer, then your marketing may be that you have prayer meetings through the week at church, that you send out a weekly email with prayer requests or that when someone arrives in the parking lot team, your parking lot attendants ask if they need prayer for anything and stop what they’re doing to pray together.

These are just examples, but if someone comes to your church, how is their experience going to leave them with the impression of your core values?

3. Advertising:

Letting people know what to expect from your marketing and how that points back to your branding.

Examples:

So if your branding is that you are a professional church, then your marketing could be that you have a set start and end time that you always hit, and your advertising could be, “We’re a church that matches your schedule” – maybe you even advertise your start and end time, rather than just your service start times.

If your branding is that you are a loving church, and your marketing is that you have a monthly potluck, then your advertising could be letting others know about your potluck.

WHY does this matter?

Consistency builds trust.  If you are consistent with your values, and people are able to experience that in your marketing and advertising, then you will build trust, or what I like to call TrustGlue. Trust is a glue that makes people stick around (specifically important for first-time visitors).

Every interaction someone has with your church will either build trust, or erode trust.  If someone has been coming to your church for a long them, their trust is less likely to erode, but if someone is at your church for the first time, their first impression will either create TrustGlue that sticks, or they simply won’t be back.

How to get started:

So the question you could be asking is “How do I create TrustGlue for a first time visitor?”  I’ve written a ebook: TrustGlue: 11 ways to create a first impression that sticks. I’ve outlined 11 ways that you can build trust with new visitors even before service starts based on your core values.  Click here to download it for free!