Robert Burns and branding

Many of you will have sampled the mixed delights of the strategy day/leadership day/ retreat [delete as applicable]. The idea is that you step away from your immediate context, perceive it differently, and come back with ideas to implement on changing it. The trouble is, you usually come away with at least 19 ideas, all of which you would like to implement by teatime…and end up pursuing none of them! Four years ago I had just such a day with the Leadership Team of the church where I serve. However, the unusual thing was that we came away with just one idea. We are fortunate to have beautiful premises, with upwards of 200 users from the community  crossing the threshold every week. Whether attending our own activities or those of an outside hirer, they like what they see. Our idea was to ‘build on the brand’, so that people understood our key aims no matter what their reason for entering the premises. Various steps were undertaken but something was still missing.

At this point, enter Stephen Barry, – a talented graphic designer who in September of last year had set up his own business in the town. With some trepidation I called Steve’s bluff, and responded to his ‘no-job-too-small’ type advert for those in our postcode on Twitter. My trepidation was born of two things – a doubt that he would ‘get’ what we wanted, and a fear that graphic design is phenomenally expensive. I was to be proved wrong on both counts. Though not a churchgoer himself, Steve very quickly fastened on our community focus, and felt that he could help us express it. Not only that, but his very reasonable rates reflected his desire to serve the local community by serving us. Four months of sifting photos, design and re-design later, the finished products went up on display in the church today (see below). They reflect the life, colour and fun which Steve saw in the church on his many visits.

This process has not only been about ‘building on the brand’ – but also, in Robert Burns’ words, about seeing ourselves differently: ‘O wad some po’er gift tae gie us, tae see oursel’s as aithers see us.’

Of course the proof of the pudding, so to speak, will be in the way that our visitors receive these new designs. I am very hopeful that this branding exercise will have served them well. Will keep you posted, and write more on the elements in the design over the weekend.

CLICK on picture to see another of Steve's designs