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Communicating Style Guide Need

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@jpcody is a group administrator @jpcody says:

I almost asked if anyone knew of any good style guide resources aside from GCC and Kem Meyer. Then I feared the kung fu of chadmaag.

So instead, I'm asking, has anyone had any particularly successful methods of communicating style guide need to Average Joe?

I figure most people wouldn't find a style guide as interesting as me (and fortunately, the senior pastor), but how can I effectively communicate that it's essential? We were considering a small "test" of the staff -- ask them how they would write something -- to show the multitude of ways to say the same thing, but how do I communicate that it's actually a problem? Any creative ideas?
12:11PM, 20 May 2008 PDT (permalink)

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ImoginNation [Christina Bruns] says:

@josh - I am looking foward to the answers you get. as I am also experienceing this same issue myself. I recently bought the GCC comm. bundle and am in the process off modifying their manual for our own purposes. I just want all the work to pay off i.e. that people actually follow/read it.
ages ago (permalink)

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redtwizzlers says:

i think you are on the right track, to show the wrong way and then the right way.

but to keep this from becoming personal and causing your staff to be defensive, how about showing the products from a church that is _not_ doing it well... a church like... oh i don't know... say MINE... and then walk them thru what doesn't work and why.

then show a church that is doing it well (check out Mars Hill info center in my photo stream)

you want to answer their 2 basic questions
what do we need to do?
why do we need to do it?

and seriously, let me know if you need samples of rogue ministries all supposedly under one brand.
ages ago (permalink)

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fattybombatty says:

I'd be interested to show them the importance through using bad theology. I mean, on some levels, a church has to have a "theological style guide" of sorts. That stuff either comes from a denomination or a seminary, but there have to be consistent theological messages communicated. I would be interested to see how a pastor would respond to that type of analogy.
ages ago (permalink)

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@chadmaag says:

I have nothing to say here, except that Josh was wise to fear my kung fu, I would layeth the smacketh downeth!! :-)
ages ago (permalink)

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bethgsanders says:

Maybe I'm cynical, but I'm not sure you are ever going to get them to care if they don't already.

If they don't care:
a) if the church looks/sounds disorganized, uneducated, chaotic and stupid ...

b) that no one will read the 10 paragraphs of redundant drivel they write ...

c) no matter how many exclamation points they place at the end of the sentence, their copy is not going to make someone want to come to their "fabulous!" event ...

they just don't care.

I wish I had hope that showing them would make them care. But I don't.

Yeah, I know. Hot button. Can you tell?
ages ago (permalink)

full angle [deleted] says:

You can also use my church as a "bad" example of poor branding, marketing, and communications.

I would look at Churches like Saddle Ranch, Mariners, Lakewood, and Mars Hill.

But then you should also look at companies that do it the best.

Apple, Target, Disney, Washington Mutual, etc.

You also might want to draw comparisons to a college's branding. They have been doing branding since before we called it branding. Think of each of your ministries as each of a college's (say UCLA) sports team. Each team plays a very different sport, with very different players, different coaches, on different fields of play. They even have some what different uniforms. However, they all wear the same logo, have the same school colors, have the same mascot, play the same fight song, represent the same school, Go BRUINS!!!!!!! Its UCLA Footbal, UCLA Basketball, UCLA Tennis, UCLA Track, UCLA Chess, UCLA Debate team, and so on and so on.

Its hard to get people to understand the importance of good branding and a design guide. People just do not value it consciously, they buy into sub-consciously, notice how they shop, they lean towards brand names, or names that copy the big brand name.

Honestly the key is winning over the Sr. Pastor. Which sounds like you have done. IMHO people in our position should be given the department of communications and then given a license to do what is needed to improve communications. But we don't do this in Church, God forbid anyone with out the title Pastor run a department, we're all dirty heathens after all. Of course then again a lot of people and pastors feel their advice is better than a licensed Christian therapist...

I say just make one, and start implementing as a part of the staff manual muahahahaha, even have a special lunch day where you give a lecture on how to use the church style guide... og how I dream... one day no comic sans, no papyrus... le sigh

Not to be so glum, but Its an uphill battle, but let us know how it goes. I know where I am at, every effort has been shot down.
Originally posted ages ago. (permalink)
full angle edited this topic ages ago.

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@jpcody is a group administrator @jpcody says:

Haha, thanks everyone so far.

I'm liking the bad theology idea, and I'm also really liking the example of college teams.

I've got about 20 minutes to pitch why they should give a crap about a style guide, so keep the good ideas rocking and rolling. I'll let you guys know what it's going to end up looking like.
ages ago (permalink)

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adamagregory says:

Just one thing to say and it has nothing to do with this discussion.

@SeanP - Fight On Trojans!!!!!
ages ago (permalink)

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RussellBrown says:

Church Marketing = West Coast Football = GO GATORS!!! :p

I'd sell it to your pastor, then the secretaries/ministry assistants. At my last church i'd have secretaries coming up to me say "Bro Tim wants to do this, but i know that isn't right, what do you think?". If the bosses are sold, you throw away stuff that isn't branded properly. But I would ad a section that if anything promotional is graphical then you need to lay eyes on it... anything on a letterhead is fine... though I know some communications departments who rewrite pastor letters to keep with the same tone in all materials...
ages ago (permalink)

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@jpcody is a group administrator @jpcody says:

Hey folks, for the record, it went down totally rocking. Afterwards, folks were coming up to me throughout the day to let me know how excited they were about it. The church has really made a habit of hiring people who value excellence and understand that they don't know everything. Their position was pretty much "We know we're not necessarily great at this, and we might not understand it, but if you say us it will help excel and the pastor supports you, then we're on board."

Here's essentially how I went about it:

Showing the problem:

Cheapo @ the FedEx store with the ATT shirt. We're representing Athens Church.

Consider inconsistent theology -- a theological style guide, if you will. It throws people off and detracts from the church as a whole. If they're getting different messages, regardless of which one is right, it distracts and detracts.

A thousand ways to say the same thing -- consider all the date formats, time formats, etc. Imagine two pieces that say the same thing in different ways are next to one another. It doesn't convey excellence, and people will put them next to one another in their mind.

If a ministry that will have a huge impact can't be tied with Athens Church, it loses out on all of Athens Church's cumulative influence. When you can say "From the producers of American Idol," or put a Nike swoosh on a golf ball, it will sell more of your product. When we can tie ministries together, it will connect people more with the gospel.

Showing the solution:

Give examples of things that would be in a style guide -- how we format dates and times, what fonts we use for official church materials, what format we use for email signatures, precise Athens Church colors, etc.

Look @ UGA -- different sports with different teams and different uniforms, coaches, fields of play, etc. But all Bulldogs. This is establishing a brand, and it is done by consistent elements in different arenas.

Look @ To Write Love on Her Arms -- anything with that font is decidedly branded as them, so they're all related back to TWLOHA.

We're working hard to create positive momentum for Athens Church, and each ministry can do small things to connect their ministry with the "Athens Church" brand. Whether that is conscious or subconscious, by associating a ministry with Athens Church, the specific ministry piggybacks on the credibility and positive connotation of Athens Church as a whole.

What we're not going for:

A grammar police that will hunt you down for writing 8/7/08 in an internal email.
A grammar police that will hunt you down and hurt you for printing something that says 6:30p.m.
Creating robots with no personality.
A manifesto of perfect grammar that can never be bent or broken.

What we are going for:

A focus on communicating with consistency and little things that make a difference.
A reference that will help you out when you are in doubt.
Creating a strong tie for each ministry with the Athens Church brand.
Some general rules to live by when communicating on official terms.


Thanks a ton for all of your help!
Originally posted ages ago. (permalink)
@jpcody edited this topic ages ago.

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