Ministry Branding – Part 3 – Messaging

Ministry Brand Development – Messaging

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about the ministry brand development process we take our clients through at Reliant Creative. So far we’ve addressed market research, positioning, and strategy. If you’ve noticed, we are now three weeks into this series and we still haven’t discussed any visual aspects of a brand. We’ve already stated and established that your brand is far more than a pretty logo, type and some color. Your brand is the whole story you tell your target audience (clients and donors). Remember, your brand can ultimately be boiled down to visuals and words. Market research, brand positioning, strategy, and now messaging are all pieces to a larger puzzle. They will instruct and determine the direction you go when creating visuals. Today we are going to address the words we use to tell our ministry stories. What is ministry brand messaging?

What is messaging?

If you think about any great story you’ve ever read or seen, the words used to tell that story are crucial. You cannot tell a great story without the use of great words. Seems pretty obvious, right? It should be obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, great messaging is often the most difficult part of building a great brand. We have found that a solid understanding of messaging is often the biggest void in the ministries we’ve served. Your ministry might have a mission statement and tagline, but is that enough to tell your story?

Messaging is your voice, it is your ministry’s personality, and it will determine how you verbally communicate your story to your target audience. Remember, we’ve already talked about the importance of finding differentiators and messaging, we believe more than anything else, will help you communicate those differentiators to your target audience. Messaging will also determine how your staff and employees communicate your story both internally and externally.

Ministry Messaging – Storytelling

Now that we know what messaging is, we can move to our next step, storytelling. I touched on this in the first post of this series. The most successful brands are built on emotion’s and story’s. If you’ll remember, I said that stores affect humans at an emotional level. What is your story? Why is your story different than other ministries? Why is your story different than other ministries doing exactly what you do, sometimes in the same location? Now we are coming back to our differentiators. Remember how I said some of the pieces in the brand development process would overlap? All of these pieces are intertwined creating one organic and symbiotic organism that is your ministry brand. Find your story, find why it is different, and that will drive your messaging. But, in order to tell an affective and efficient story, we need some structure.

Ministry Message Structure

You can think about ministry brand messaging like a structure or building. At the bottom you have your brand pillars which make up the foundation. Brand pillars are the values your ministry is built on. On top of your brand pillars is your mission statement which is literally what you do, communicated in the most practical way. Above your mission statement sits your ministry brand position. Again we see different pieces of the brand development process overlaping, and brand positioning is one of those pieces. We’ve already delved into brand positioning in great detail HERE, so I won’t go into it any further during this point. Lastly, at the top of the brand messaging structure is your vision statement. Your vision statement should be grandiose and unattainable. When you’re creating your vision statement, the bigger you can think the better. As ministries, we are driven and called by a God that wants to take us farther than we think we can go ourselves. So why not think big when creating a vision statement? Here’s a bulleted representation of the brand messaging structure I’m talking about, and you’ll need all of these pieces to tell your story and message to your target audience well.

  • Vision Statement – Grandiose and Unattainable
  • Brand Positioning – Literally where your ministry is positioned in the market.
  • Mission Statement – Practical explanation of what your ministry does.
  • Brand Pillars – The values on which your ministry is based.

All of these pieces make up your brand personality and voice, and they should be driven by the story you want to tell.

Ministry Branding – Telling Your Story

In order to grow successful brands we have to be able to explain what our ministries do incredibly fast. The more efficient we are, the better. In a day and age when it’s difficult to get someone to pay attention to a one minute video, how can we hold attention with written words? In order to do it affectively, we need a deep understanding of our ministries. All of the pieces we’ve discussed already, including research, positioning, and strategy will all come together at this phase to inform your messaging. At this point, with a deep understanding of what your ministry does and the story you want to tell, you can begin to build things like tagline, elevator pitches, written content for webpages, video verbiage and narratives, value propositions, proposals, newsletters, email blasts, written content for fundraising events, event invites, even your ministry name. Great messaging is crucial anywhere you communicate your ministry story.  Without well established brand messaging all of these things can easily be broken and inconsistent. The voice you use in your newsletters won’t echo the voice of your tagline and video narrative, and when a brand is broken and inconsistent, it can’t be as affective as the alternative.
Figure out the differentiated story you want to tell. Build a structure for how to communicate that story, and let that messaging you create through that process permeate throughout your entire organization.

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