To effectively communicate, every organization needs to have a set of standards that govern what is said about your organization and how it is said. These standards, known as verbal brand standards, create a communications framework on which you can standardize your organization’s unique voice. It’s what sets you apart in a world full of digital messaging and noise.
At OneEighty we offer visual branding services, or logos. With those services we give our clients a brand guide that summarizes the visual brand standards we created. It is composed of the colors, fonts, and different styles of their logo. It lets them know what they should and shouldn’t do with their logo. Verbal brand standards do that same thing for your communication. Being consistent with your communication helps people to clearly understand what you do, how you help, and what problems you solve. This is more than just a good tagline; it digs much deeper.
A framework acts like a guide on the journey to creating communication standards. It makes sure you ask the right questions and stay on track. There are a lot of things that could be said in church communication, but it is saying the right things in the right way that help you communicate in a clear and compelling way that connects with visitors and donors. For example, if I were to go to your church and ask 10 church members what’s unique about your church, at most churches, you would get 10 different answers. But imagine if each person described your church in the exact same way, using the exact same words. WOW!!! What an impact that would leave. Creating these standards begins with using a framework that helps you collect words and phrases that begin to form into a verbal brand. Using them constantly across your organization is what makes them impactful.
Ask yourself this..
If you’re answering no to those questions, then we can help.
There is no denying the power of a good story. It was one of Jesus’ main teaching methods. Why? Because he knew, like we do, that stories are compelling and easy to remember. There were so many powerful biblical truths communicated in His parables. More often than not, the things that people remember about the sermons most of us have preached are the stories or illustrations that we used. Honestly, it’s what I most remember about those sermons too. Our minds are conditioned through thousands of years of oral history to remember and gravitate to a good story. StoryBrand is a messaging framework that uses this power to help you craft your communication standards and invite people into a compelling story that they want to be a part of. The book “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller is a must read.
Crafting this message starts at the top. As pastors and leaders, we have the most knowledge about the inner workings of our organizations. This information is a blessing and a curse. There is a principle called the “curse of knowledge”. It basically says that knowing too much information makes us biased – we assume others know the same information we do and so we communicate like they do. In doing so, we fail to communicate clearly in a way that others can understand. Clarity is crucial to having good communication. It is as easy as saying the same things in the same way so that the message is clear. It also takes an outside perspective, without this “curse of knowledge”, to help make sure that the message we are crafting is clear to those outside our organization, you know, the ones we are trying to reach…the ones who need to hear the message the most. “Is it clear?” is the question we should always ask ourselves. It is the highest goal of communication.
I was with a client recently doing a StoryBrand workshop helping them get clarity on their messaging. As with many church leaders, they were falling into the trap of “cleverness”. They wanted the phrases in their messaging to sound clever. They thought by making them sound catchy or rhythmic they would be more memorable. The trap of cleverness is an easy one for leaders to fall into, but clarity should always be the goal. We cannot sacrifice clarity for cleverness or we sacrifice our whole communication strategy. Words can have much impact, and making sure they are clear helps them have the most impact they can.
Your organization may solve many problems, as most do. But the question really is what problem is your organization known for solving? This is key for communication. It’s how your organization is already known. When people think of your organization, they relate it to a problem they are facing. So when they face that problem, they think of you. If your organization isn’t clearly communicating what problem you’re solving then people won’t think of you at all. There needs to be a clear association between your organization and that problem in the mind of the people you are trying to reach. Secular brands have used this to be known for the problems they solve. When you have a pain, you probably reach for a bottle of Tylenol. When you need to clean your teeth, you probably think of Crest or Colgate. Things are associated with the problems that they solve. Your organization needs to do the same.
There are many parts of the StoryBrand framework, but one of the most powerful is that of the “Guide”. This part of the framework helps you identify how you are positioning yourself as a guide to those you help. What gives you the right to solve the problem you solve? What experience or authority do you have that makes you qualified to solve this problem? This is the only part of the StoryBrand framework where you talk about yourself. It’s the part where you are building trust with your audience. But the idea goes deeper than that. In your communications story, your organization is the “guide”. It’s the one that is helping people transform and solve their problems. This very much lines up with the idea of shepherding we see in the Bible. Jesus is the great shepherd of course, but as his undershepherds, we play a role in helping people too. So we need to communicate why people can trust us, and why we’re trustworthy. Most people don’t like talking about themselves, but it’s important in your organization’s communication to make sure people know why they can trust you to help them solve their problems. Doing this clearly helps them associate you with the problem you solve.
We’ve only talked about a few of the parts of the 7 part StoryBrand framework. But the power of any framework is how all the pieces fit together. Their strength is in their connectedness. When you’re creating communication for your organization, it needs to touch on all the points in order to craft a complete message. If your organization could use a verbal face lift to help clarify and communicate your message in a compelling way, reach out to us. We’re certified in the StoryBrand messaging framework and can help you craft a message your community can’t ignore.