Gain trust and communicate a cohesive message with a basic church style guide.
Communication channels have exploded for churches. It used to be enough to hand out paper bulletins and make announcements from the pulpit. But these days, especially in the relatively post-COVID world, social media, websites, and print materials are necessities. And as seamless as paperless communication looks, it requires a team of staff and volunteers to create and maintain such a multitude of channels.
So how do you keep your church’s identity and message cohesive?
How can you ensure an attendee spots your Instagram post among the dozens of others during a lunchtime scroll?
The answer is a style guide—a visual toolkit that helps an organization speak in a unified voice. Beyond standardizing a look, did you know that a good style guide defines your church’s values and lays out what you aim to communicate, and why? It’s true! In addition, it builds trust and relatability among those who are taking in your message.
Keep reading and discover ways to use a style guide to unify your church’s message and build trust with your visitors and attendees.
How to Unify Your Church's Message With a Style Guide
1. Present Your Mission Clearly with a Worship Brand Book
Go beyond a style guide and create a worship brand book. Beyond font and colors, this piece of communication should describe the church’s philosophy of ministry and evoke a clear direction and culture to your communications team and leaders. In addition, it should give detailed examples of voice, color palette, and design principles so each ministry experience evokes a familiar and trusted response.
Online, you can find Saddleback Church’s Worship Brand Book, which can be seen as the industry standard for churches trying to clearly communicate their message.
In addition to examples of tone and voice, the book also categorizes familiar phrases under DO and DON’T utilize, like DO discuss relationships and truth but DON’T use terms like brethren and manifestation.
2. Speak in a Consistent Tone & Voice with a Detailed Style Guide
The aforementioned style guide is the go-to for your communications team. It gets into the nitty gritty, like typefaces, colors, and layout guidelines. Not only does this keep communication consistent, it also keeps your designers happy and your audience engaged. This piece of communication has the power to unify your church’s presented message.
A well-developed style guide illustrates the standards for using type, color, photography, and logos. It should also cover some basic writing guidelines. Follow these style guide tips when creating your church’s guide:
- Define who you are. Clarify your vision and describe the characteristics of your church.
- Indicate the design style and writing style that best reflect your church’s identity. The design and writing for an urban church plant will be different from the styles for a 100-year-old traditional church.
- Illustrate your design style and writing style with specific, visual examples. Show the exact colors and fonts. Provide samples of social media or newsletter content.
- Ensure consistency by clarifying capitalization and spelling for staff titles, official groups, and other frequently used terms. Do you have a pastor, father, patriarch, apostle, or bishop? Is it the “Missions Committee” or the “world outreach team”? Do you have a “women’s ministry” or “Women’s Ministries”?
- Create templates and point your team to online resources that will help them implement the style guide. For example, provide access to the church logo and ministry logos in a variety of sizes; give links where people can download the correct typefaces.
This level of detail is helpful to your staff and writers, avoiding common questions that will undoubtedly rear their heads on a daily basis in your church offices.Get specific with your church’s branding. Are staff titles capitalized? Is it kidsmin or Children's Ministry? Think through anticipated questions before they reveal inconsistencies or hold up production. Click To Tweet
3. Tell The Same Story When Writers Implement Your Style Guide
Take the time to gather beautiful visuals in a variety of formats to introduce your brand book and style guide to your communications team. Get their buy-in on the need for a cohesive brand and identity, and then introduce the specifics. These details become instrumental in telling your story.
Here’s what Jonathan Pease of Bethel Media had to say about the results obtained from a style guide:
“Style guides do three things: They help tell your story, they help unite your church visually, and they equip volunteers to do ministry. We believe every church has a unique story to tell, and when you put a style in place, it reinforces that story.”
That said, even with a beautifully constructed style guide to follow, staff and volunteers are bound to make mistakes. They’ll use the wrong typeface or colors, or they’ll create a design that doesn’t match the established look and feel. As servants of Jesus, we should always respond to missteps with grace.
- Be kind as you discuss why it’s important to follow the style guide.
- Find out the challenges your team members are facing.
- Ask how you can help them help the transition and application of the guide.
CREATE TRUST WITH A CHURCH STYLE GUIDE
By creating and implementing a church style guide, you are helping visitors and attendees experience your church the way you intend. With consistency across your channels, you’ll gain credibility and trust, and make it that much easier to deliver the message that you want your listeners to hear week after week.
Still working on your church’s branding? Get pro tips for message development by answering these 3 questions, driven by the effective StoryBrand Framework.
This article has been adapted from an article originally featured in Ministry Team Magazine.