The name of your church or ministry and your logo is the first thing people see. What impression does it give them? Does it give a message that you want? An email from a young pastor prompted this article. Following is his email and my answer that, though not exhaustive, gives some important guidelines for naming and creating a logo for a ministry or church.
The email that started the conversation about naming and branding a ministry
After a year and half of working with this youth group we still have the old Ignite name and logo. I don't really like either one but am having trouble coming up with a better one. So I was wondering what process you go through to choose names and how you finally decide on one and if you have any names you would suggest?
I would love for the name to represent our ministry well, but mostly I just want to it to help give the ministry an identity and brand so to speak. I want to be able to get some shirts made with a simple name and logo which will spark curiosity.
A few names that have popped up are: The Bridge, Rip Tide, Altered, and Driven. What do you think of these, any suggestions?
Following are my suggestions:
I commend you for thinking through these issues. Corporations spend thousands of dollars deciding questions like this and though we don't have those resources, with thought, prayer, and the Lord's guidance I have seen many churches come up with excellent solutions. Here are some thoughts and suggestions that might be helpful:
#1: Recognize that naming a ministry and creating a logo are very important.
These are not frivolous, non-ministry related actions. The group’s name, the way it is presented, the colors used, the connotations of the name and colors and the logo all give out an impression. These impressions are the first thing people see and hear and they help form their first response to your ministry.
Give yourself plenty of time, thought, and prayer as you decide. There are many resources on the web that can help with the design itself, but the suggestions that follow are all decisions you need to make before you have a graphic design implemented.
#2 The name/logo will give an identity and ministry direction to your group, so think it through carefully.
Groups will live up to their name. In my experience, when my husband Paul and I first led a Single Adult Group, we called it OASIS. We were very intentional about it and the name came from what we wanted the group to be about. Here was our thinking:
Being here in S. California, we liked the California connotation to a tropical idea, we had a palm tree and sun for our logo, it had the idea of rest, relax, recharge. More important than that, we had a ministry direction to the name we wanted the name to emphasize:
OASIS stood for:
Our Adult Singles In Service: Service to God, Service to others, Service to our world.
We worked hard to make certain everyone in the ministry knew the meaning of the name. We never allowed the name to be used in any church publication without the tagline. We did that intentionally because we wanted singles to know that singles are not to live only for themselves, but that the Bible teaches singles are to be the most involved, godly, active people in the kingdom of God. We constantly stressed that in our teaching and activities.
#3 Color is also important in your choice of a logo.
Think team colors. Our primary color for OASIS was yellow; we colored the sun in the logo that color. When we printed stuff it was always on neon yellow paper. I used to send out (before everyone had email) lots of postcards, always on yellow card stock. People referred to getting those “little yellow postcards from Yvon”
Because then the church did not have a full color printer, all our bulletin inserts, newsletters, everything, was printed on that neon yellow paper. We had yellow t-shirts with our logo on them. This was very effective when all the singles would wear them on a Sunday and it was a not-so-subtle way for the church to see that singles were involved (at that time we had about 300 of them) in all aspects of the church: choir, children’s ministry, ushers, you name it.
Also with color you have to think through your printing options, can you print in full color? How will it look if you can’t? Today, be sure to pick colors that will work on email, the web, up on PowerPoint.
Keep in mind that colors have different associations to different groups and that colors change in popularity.
#4 Think through carefully the connotations of a name
What do you want your group to be about? To be known as? This is especially challenging with a youth group, because the temptation is to focus on the impact of the name itself, (what is cool or edgy or "in" at the moment) but all words in common usage have previous connotations that you can’t ignore.
Because of that don’t only think of the current appeal of a name—think the identity you want the group to be known for, what has the Lord called you to be?
Here are a few thoughts on this topic in connection with the names you suggested:
The “bridge” has lots of good connotations of unity and joining God and people and all that, but at present it is also a common church name and there is at least one church here in Ventura named “the Bridge” so that name could be confusing in your advertising and outreach material.
The idea of going against the current is a good connotation, but I wouldn’t use this one because rip tides also kill people, as happens at least a few times a year in this area. It also is something you can't see, and if you are caught in one, it is very hard to get out of it. It can carry away and you'll die. None of these are great connotations for a youth group.
This name has possibilities. It is a bit edgy and counter cultural—altered states of consciousness come to mind. But it also has some valid biblical connotations:
Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Cor.5:17, NLT)
Today people alter lives and bodies for all kinds of reasons, why not for one of eternal and real value? If you are in an altered state, people usually know it—so, don’t hide who you are in Jesus!
You could come up with some interesting light/ dark/contrast sorts of logos, any strong color combination could work—this one has real possibilities
This one also has some great possibilities: ideas of direction and what is driving you and to get somewhere, who is driving you, what fuels your life, etc. Lots of biblical images of the road, the way, are obvious here.
Again, could do some neat graphic images for the logo, some contemporary ones—ideas of road trips, maps needed, lots of good analogies and design images for websites, e-newsletters, social media groups, devotions for the road, etc. could go along with this.
Also too I like the idea of this one because the term “driven” usually means someone is really committed to, sold out on what they are doing—could have some great lead-ins for challenges to discipleship and being driven by things eternal.
#5 You don't have to be where you want to be when you pick a new name/logo
As you read some of the material above, you might be hesitant as you pick a name because you know your church or ministry isn't what you want them to be. They may seem more like a dangerous rip-tide at the moment than a group of people driven to love and serve Jesus.
In situations like this, let's look at some biblical examples of naming. When God first called Gideon to deliver his people, he said:
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12)
When Jesus called Peter, he said:
Jesus looked intently at Peter for a moment and then said, “You are Simon, John’s son—but you shall be called Peter, the rock!” (Jn. 1:42, TLB)
Gideon was hiding in a winepress when God called him and Peter would go on to deny Christ—both were a long way from mighty men of God they would become.
Give your ministry a name worthy of the calling God has given you. Don't settle for a name based on your current situation, but on a vision for the future and with His help, work to make it all the Lord wants it to be.