One of the strongest distinctions for a successful business is cultivating a memorable brand. While not always required for success, solid branding helps captivate the hearts and minds of consumers, giving your company a leg up against competition and market changes for decades. But how should your faith influence your branding, and to what extent? How far should you go to highlight your beliefs?
But the LORD said to Samuel, “‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'”
Beyond Visual Design
For starters, branding is not just about logo design, a distinctive color palette, or a catchy tagline. It goes much deeper than that. In essence, your brand is whatever others think of you. It’s the audience you serve, your share in the market, the problems you solve, and the solutions you offer. All these factors mix with the look and feel of your marketing materials to create an impression in the marketplace.
For example, using Christian iconography in your logo does not automatically make your brand Christian. Printing Bible verses in your marketing materials is not the only way—and sometimes the worst way—to be a distinctive, memorable Christian brand.
Take Hobby Lobby for instance. There is nothing about their visual design that suggests they are a Christian organization, and yet they are recognized globally for Christian values in their business practices. They have cultivated an impression in the marketplace for putting their faith front and center. From their clearly stated faith-based mission statement, to their willingness to lobby on behalf of faith-based organizations coupled with their treatment of their employees, Hobby Lobby has developed a strong Christian brand without changing their visual identity.
Becoming a Stronger Brand
So, how can you cultivate distinction like the larger Christian brands like Hobby Lobby or Chick-Fil-A? For starters, ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing? What was the impulse leading you to start your business in the first place? What part of this impulse was driven by your faith, and how can you communicate that motivation effectively through messaging?
Now think about your current marketing and sales mix. Are there ways you can incorporate that faithful impulse into your messaging? Can you tweak your customer service and sales messaging and process to better fit with and demonstrate your values? Are you giving to or working with organizations that share your values? What are you doing for your community? What advertising opportunities are you missing which could express your faith, through your actions?
As with Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil-A, a business might not be overtly Christian in appearance, yet it can certainly have a Jesus-centered vision and mission, and that vision is largely what drives branding perception. If you’re building your business processes with a Christian focus in mind, such as promoting kindness, fairness, mercy and justice, then the market perception of your brand will steadily shift.