When I came on staff at Brentwood Baptist, we two campuses and we were in the process of dreaming about third. Well, that dreaming quickly turned into doing, which then in turned into us launching three more campuses in 45 days.
Yes, you read that right, we went from two campuses to five campuses in 45 days. On top of that, we had yet to establish church branding guidelines and we were working out of a branding guidebook that was at least five years old. So, we had a lot of work to do.
Through that process and the addition of three more campuses (8 total), there are four essential things we have learned about multi-campus branding and keeping every consistent. This list is small snapshot of what we’ve learned, and we continue to refine as we grow.
Establish what is core to the brand. You need to determine what are the essential parts of the church branding. Think through the core elements like color schemes, typography and icons.Don’t assume that people will pick up on the small nuances of your branding, use examples to show what you mean. The more visual you are with your explanations and guides, the more you can mitigate any future issues you may have with someone going off brand.
Define when and how something can deviate from the brand, and what that process looks like. Yes, there are times when you’re going to need to contextualize your brand in different settings, and you’ll want to give yourself and those you work with the option to create alternative solutions.
For example, we have a campus located in an urban area of town. It’s couched between bars, coffee shops, and local restaurants. It’s also located in building that historical to our city. So when we’re designing for a campus, we often allow ourselves to deviate from the pre-defined look. It may be something small like that texture of background, or it may be situation where we create something that’s completely different from everyone else because that’s what needed.
(Pro-tip: If a campus complains about another campus getting special treatment when it comes to design, just tell them that you’re “beta-testing” something. That aways seems to work.”
Determine future checkpoints to let your brand evolve. One of things that we’ve learned that as we grow as an organization, we have let the brand evolve with the growth. That’s why we have monthly design review meetings to determine if the brand is still meeting our needs or if we need provide some small nudges in a different direction.
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Just recently, we met and decided that we’re going to officially kill all use of stock photos. The previous branding guidelines called for a lot stock photography to be used in our designs (it was from previous staff). However, it was finally time for us to officially so no more to stock photography and invest in a photographer to help us evolve the brand.
Learn to establish your authority in design from your relationships and not in title. One of the mistakes that I see a lot of young creatives make is that they believe that need some sort of formal authority in order to maintain church branding consistency across campuses. I understand that. The job of branding would be a lot easier if we could all just hand edicts down from on high and let that be the final word.
The problem is that leadership doesn’t work that way. Sure you can do that for a short amount of time. But after a while, you’re simply known as the “no” person on your staff. Instead, you have to work to form strong relationships with all of your campuses. If these relationships are in place, then they’ll see you as a ministry partner and not as an adversary to what they want to get accomplished.
I know it can seem like you’re managing a giant hairball when it comes to branding across multiple campuses. But if you take a deep breath and the time to on the four things above, you’ll eventually lay the groundwork that will let you brand scale as your church grows.