Over the last few months I’ve been doing a bit of consultancy work with the church that we used to attend in London; St. Mark’s Kennington. Amongst other tasks (such as making the church website responsive) this work involved considering how the church may be viewed externally. Now I’m not sure about using the word “brand” in the context of a church image, but essentially, it’s branding that I’m talking about. St Mark’s is a church not a business, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing to project. Developing a visual identity that is consistent and a true representation of the church helps to communicate its unique characteristics to the wider community.
Regardless of how much St. Mark’s chooses to put on display, people will form their own opinions about who they are. The image the church projects must genuinely reflect the ‘experience’ of being at St Mark’s, and authenticity and honesty are key when working towards a new, consistent visual presence. So, a questionnaire was circulated around the congregation with regards to how the church views itself and what the important aspects of its culture are. A multitude of responses were received, reflecting the diversity of the congregation, but one key, consistent aspect cropped up again and again; that of welcome.
The last thing we wanted to do (I use the word “we”, as Kiri and I worked together on the logo… in fact she probably did more work on it than me!) was to come up with something cheesy, but the key thing to communicate through a new logo was welcome. After throwing a few ideas down on paper, we settled on the concept of an open door with light flowing out. We also wanted to incorporate the shape of the church somehow, as it has quite a recognisable silhouette. A few meetings later (and a few hours of tweaking to make sure the logo worked in monochrome, both black on white and white on black, with the doorway still emitting light), we had our first design:
The fact that the allusion to the shape of the church building and the open door fitted within the “M” of St. Mark’s was a pleasant by-product. We were aware that the logo was “L”-shaped overall, but all of our attempts to fill the top corner with something ended up detracting from the open door, so we eventually just embraced the white space.
The proposed logo was circulated amongst the church council for comments and we received some very useful feedback. As a result of this, we realised that we hadn’t quite got the balance right between retaining the simplicity of the church silhouette and architectural correctness. It was also suggested that the straight edges on the outline of the “M” weren’t particularly welcoming. After a few tweaks, we had our second design, which has been adopted by St. Mark’s.
Along with the new logo we put together a pared-down style guide containing a suggested, consistent colour palette to use for all printed media and electronic media.
I’m still not sure whether churches need a brand as such, but I think a logo helps to make a church quickly identifiable.