Do Churches Need a Brand Promise?

I’ve been reading Verne Harnish again. I keep coming back to this strategic expert in the business world because I see so many parallels between what he teaches and the church world. Again, I’m not interested in getting into the debate about churches using business practices. All churches use business practices. It is a matter of degrees. If there are good business practices that are adaptable to the church I’m all for it. Truth is truth.

Here’s the latest thing I am struggling with from Harnish: The Brand Promise. In the business world, this is the one thing that a company is known for. It is that key factor that addresses their customer’s needs and sets them apart from their competition.  FedEx made their name by promising to get your package where it was going overnight. The post office couldn’t do that at the time.

Should a church have a “brand promise”? Elevate Church in Charlotte North Carolina promises to have the best worship experience. Steve Sjogren put The Vineyard Church in Cincinnati on the map with “servant evangelism” where they would gather every Saturday to go out and serve in random ways throughout their community. Originally, Bill Hybels wanted to plant a church that he could invite his non-Christian friends to, and Willow Creek Community Church was born.  They defined the Seeker Driven model for many years.

I do believe that most churches would benefit from asking a few simple questions that Harnish identifies in his work:

  • What is your BHAG? (That is, your Big Hairy Audacious Goal.) In the church world we would ask what is the vision God has revealed for your church in the coming years?
  • How do you define your sandbox? Are you a neighborhood church? A regional church? An Hispanic church? A seeker church? A church for artists? Who are you trying to reach?
  • What is the biggest need (not wants) that this group of people has?
  • What is your brand promise?  How can your church meet that need in a unique way?
  • What is the bottleneck/shortage/chokepoint? In other words, what is keeping you from fulfilling this promise? What are you going to do about it?

(taken from Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish)

I think the key here is focus. Many churches try to do so much that they don’t do anything very well. This is particularly true of once large churches that are now in decline. They desperately try to hold on to the multiple programs they were able to do in the past, instead of focusing on doing one or a few things very well.

If someone were to ask you: What is your church best known for outside of your church? How would you respond?