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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

06 Aug '10

Keepers of the Brand


Every ministry has a brand! It is made up of its mission, core convictions and ministry philosophy. The better that brand is understood by its leaders, members and constituents the more powerful it is as a unifying factor. When the brand is not understood or is foggy, that power is diluted.

Leaders are by definition the "keepers of the brand" with the senior leader leading the way. He or she is constantly communicating, reinforcing and living out the commitments of the brand. They do this in a number of key ways.

Common vocabulary is key to your brand. The Central Ministry Focus, for instance in ReachGlobal, the organization I lead is that we are all about developing, empowering and releasing healthy national workers. The three words, "Develop, Empower and Release" are constantly used by all leaders and are common vocabulary that defines our brand as a mission. Another phrase that is known by most is "We don't own anything, control anything or count anything as ours." This is part of our philosophy as a mission that exists to empower others and not control. It is central to who we are and the common vocabulary communicates that principle.

In your own ministry, have you developed a common vocabulary that defines who you are? It is a powerful way to communicate your key convictions and to inculcate that understanding among your constituency.

Leaders are those who clearly articulate the brand by developing this common vocabulary. They spend considerable time thinking about how they can best communicate a clear, consistent message that sticks with those who hear it and is instantly understandable. And then they repeat it often - in writing, in person and in presentations. Those who know me have heard me say often, Do not underestimate my resolve. I am committed to those principles that drive ReachGlobal and that phrase articulates that conviction that we will deliver on the promise of the brand. It is a reminder to those who hear it that we take our convictions seriously and we will move in the direction of those convictions. Leaders articulate the brand by clear, concise statements that reinforce the convictions of the organization constantly.

This becomes most powerful when the commitments of the brand are directly tied to decision making. Part of our brand story as a mission is that we are committed to healthy people serving on healthy teams under healthy leadership to plant healthy churches. This is the culture we must have if we are going to be successful. But it has implications. If a team is not healthy we will do everything we can to bring it to health because unhealthy teams cannot produce healthy churches or disciples. It would be easy to ignore an unhealthy team. To do so, however, would be to violate the commitments of our brand and to communicate that we are not really committed to what we have articulated.

Often in decision making we will go back to the commitments of our brand and ask the question, is what we are doing consistent with our convictions. When members of the organization see alignment between the brand message and decision making, they know that we are serious about those convictions.

What is the test of whether we have articulated our brand well? It is when everyone in the organization can articulate it. When the common vocabulary is known by everyone and everyone can articulate the core convictions of the organization, you know that you have been successful as a keeper of the brand. This is true in the local church, in mission organizations, other non-profits and frankly in the business world.

This morning as I was wondering if I should actually get out of bed at an early hour to finish up some projects, the words Just do it, came to mind and I popped out of bed. Thank you Nike - your brand is well known. How about you? Is your brand well known? If you are the leader or in leadership, how are you doing as a keeper of the brand? Or do you need to clarify the brand first? A brand is only possible when there is missional clarity but with missional clarity the brand is a powerful reinforcer.