For the first part of my career in ministry and design, I largely paid no attention to the style I used. After all, I wear flip-flops literally all the time (including during snow storms). So what did I really know about style?
Looking back, I realize I missed a huge opportunity to better communicate with my audience. When I first began dabbling in the ancient art of Photoshop, I simply put all kinds of elements together and hoped, in the end, I could get them to look okay.
I missed out on style.
The word ?style? often gets a bad rap in churches. Most old-school church leaders will tell you that it is all about the substance. While it?s true that style should never rise above the substance in our churches, using the right style in music, video, preaching, and ,especially, graphic design is a key component to creating the right environment to lead people to connect with our Creator.
In the rest of this article I would like to take a few minutes of your time, and share with you five graphic design styles churches are or should be using. Whether you know it or not, everything your church is doing right now is communicating a message. So why not become aware of what exactly you are saying with your style?
This design style happens to be my favorite?and not just because I love Apple. Minimal design is all about throwing away the clutter and distractions, which is exactly what I want to do for people entering my church on Sunday. Using the philosophy of ?less is more? is one of the best ways to create clear and clean graphics for everything your church puts out.
2. Flat design
Okay I’ll admit it: Flat design is, essentially, a subcategory of the minimalist style we just talked about. I do, however, think it is worth mentioning on its own. The flat design style is all about creating 2D awesomeness using brightly colored backgrounds and eye-catching illustrations that allow the viewer to quickly focus. Our churches can use this style to create quick design elements that are focused and easy to follow.
Raise your hand if your church has ever had trouble getting men to be contributors in your church. Consider my hand raised. One of the ways we, as church creatives, have failed is by not making our sermons, music, and designs manly enough. For too long, we have used flowers and pastel colors that drive men to roll their eyes. Creating things that are more masculine in appearance can help our churches reach out to men better. Typically, using straight lines, rough edges, and angles is the best place to start if you want to make more masculine graphics.
Generally, I like to stay away from this style, but is does have its place in our churches. Most unchurched people have been given the impression that churches are no more than small corporations whose pastors drive expensive cars and live in gigantic houses. That personally does not offend me; however, in our creative work, I think it’s important to keep that stereotype in the back of our minds. Keep your corporate-looking designs for things that should look
corporate (like annual reports or logos) and stay away from corporate-looking marketing and promotional products.
One of the most popular styles for designers right now is vintage. I also lovingly refer to this as hipster. Using this style requires muted colors and dirty textures. Possibly the best part of this design category is the classic look of the typography. This style is excellent for the more urban and millennial age churches. It works incredibly well with sermon series design, logos, and all things youth ministry.
Knowing who you are and what your church is about is the most important part of design. Having an idea of what graphic style your church should be using will help keep things uniform and neat and present your church as a professional organization that cares about the details. That, in turn, shows care for the people.
That being said, I don’t think we, as designers, should limit ourselves to one style that agrees with our personal tastes. Knowing what you want to communicate on each individual project will increase the value of your designs to a level you never dreamed.
If you are always using the masculine style, you may or may not have a female revolt on your hands. On the flip side, using only female colors will drive away the men you are desperate to reach. So keep a sharp eye on the design styles you choose.
Creating the style that communicates the right message will help take your church graphics and branding to the next level.