Guest post by Rex Whisman.
Republished with permission.
[Note from Chino Blanco: Cross-posted here because I’ve just finished listening to Kyle Monson’s “Publicity, Advertising, & the New Mormon.org” at BCC, and reading Kaimi Wenger’s “The Angel and the Internet” at Times & Seasons, and I think Rex’s questions might provide useful jumping off points for engaging those two Bloggernacle posts here at MSP.]
A couple of days ago I read about a new advertising campaign for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer read, Mormon ads trying for a new brand. When I see the word brand equated to the word ads I always get a little nervous. Why? Because way too many people, including semi-professional marketers, associate the words brand and branding with the words marketing or advertising.
When that happens the brand goal is usually not met. Is it the organization, the organization’s marketers or the writer of the story that does not realize that a brand is your name, what your name stands for and the associations that people make with your name when they see or hear your name? A brand is not a logo, tagline or advertising campaign. A brand is not even your strategy, should you choose to take the time to develop one.
Unlike many others, religious organizations have an advantage because they have a built in mission and set of core values that is usually understood by their stakeholders. When creating awareness or developing a strategy to place the organization in a 21st century context, the best way to do so is to establish a brand platform that captures the essence of the organization by engaging your stakeholders in the development and execution of the strategy. Then deciding what is the best way to communicate that essence to your target audience. Creating traditional advertising campaigns that try to make the organization look hip with little regard to their mission and core values are not sustainable.
I think for those who are not Mormons, the organization is probably misunderstood and does need to educate people. If an advertising campaign reflects your mission and core values and is a way to inform and help ensure sustainability then I say go for it. If the advertising campaign is an attempt to try and make Mormons look cool without a brand strategy, then I say don’t waste your money. Trying to be cool is what everyone else does so why try to look and sound like everyone else? Brand Champions are recruited and retained when they connect to what you stand for, not what you look like in a 30 second spot on a surf board.