You spend all this time creating a great church graphics, but then you find out that others in your church are throwing different colors and clip art in their design work. It makes you want to rip your hair out doesn’t it?
In today’s episode, we’re interviewing a church graphics design expert to find out how you can create more consistency in your church graphics to reflect your church values and culture more accurately.
About Our Guest: Michael Tuszynski
Michael has served in full-time ministry as a youth pastor and creative arts pastor. After discovering a passion for the graphic arts, Michael wanted to use that passion to help churches save time and look awesome.
In 2016 Michael founded Church Media Squad, an unlimited custom graphics service designed with churches in mind. Church Media Squad gives churches the ability to have access to an entire team of church media specialists for a fraction of the cost. Almost two years later and Church Media Squad has been able to help over 200+ churches save time and look awesome.
Rapid Fire Questions:
Coke or Pepsi: Coke
Coffee or Tea: Coffee
Sushi or Steak: Steak
Introvert or Extrovert: Technically both but more introverted
Star Trek or Star Wars: Star Wars
DC or Marvel: Marvel
Overall Rating: Future Best Friends
TL;DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch)
Dave was out for the live recording and Justin’s mic went down…but that’s not stopping us!
So no banter, no jokes, let’s get straight into the good stuff!
A special task that Michael and Church Media Squad haves every week is to deal with hundreds of churches and designs.
According to Mike and his experience, if you’re looking to push the boundaries of design or stay in the box…they’re both wrong.
As creatives (and coffee-lovers), here is how Michael likes to explain graphic design consistency for a church and its brand…
Church Branding Is Like Coffee
As coffee drinkers, we have a preference in what we like in our coffee. We like to buy different coffees with notes from fruity, nutty, maybe chocolatey… but what we don’t get is the detailed ingredients and recipe. We just look at the flavor highlights.
In the same way, Michael likes to look at a church and figure out their flavor. Are they a dark roast and very traditional and serious? Or are they more fun and energetic like a candy-bar coffee. You don’t need to dig down into the details, just the overall feel for the church.
After you figure out the flavor of your church, you can move into how you’ll design for it. And this flavor along with the look and feel is a guide, not a hard and fast rule.
Social media should stay consistent with the brand flavors, but sermon series can play around a little bit and breakaway from the brand. A candy-bar church can have a serious sermon series graphic, and a dark roast church can have a lighthearted sermon graphic.
So how do you find out what flavor your church is for your starting point?
How To Find Your Own Church’s Flavor
Ultimately, start with where your culture is right now, not so much where you want it to be. This is particularly tempting to break as a creative when you want to SWIPE what another church is doing.
Never dress yourself as a church that you’re not. This can come across as a lie. Present who you are in your church graphics, media, and website.
Ask yourself, are you fun? Playful? Serious? Theology-heavy? Casual?
Then when you have your values defined, you can use those values to influence your design.
If you’re a serious church, you may notice that your graphics don’t reflect that. Now that you know your flavor, you can fine tune your designs to reflect your church properly.
If you need some help finding your values, sit in a meeting with your staff or pastors to get to the heart of what’s really important to the church and its culture. Here are Justin’s favorite questions to ask when designing a church website:
What is your mission statement and vision?
What problems are you trying to solve in church?
How do you want to be known?
How would your neighborhood or community describe your church?
What are you giving your church members right now?
How do you want your church to sound? (like a friend, a father, authority figure, serious, fun, youthful…)
What are the 5 most important values in your church?
Okay, so now you’ve got your values, and you’ve got a feel or “flavor” for who your church is.
Now you can start implementing consistency in your church graphics and media…
What Should Stay Consistent In Church Graphics?
Anything you’re putting out in your community that talks about you as a church should be consistent. Mailers, flyers, invite cards, social media…your church should be unified from a design standpoint. They should feel like your church.
Basically, just by looking at these creative assets, people should see your values through your designs for these public materials.
The two times you can stray away from this unified design are the big holidays and sermon series. Since Christmas and Easter stand on their own with their own events and celebrations, they can have their own branding. And sermon series are more internal where the values are already set, and you can play around with the designs a bit more.
Does A Church Need A Style Guide?
A style guide, also known as a brand guide, is a document that outlines what a company should use when designing graphics and media. It can list the correct fonts to use, different logos, color schemes, as well as what not to do.
The vast majority of churches that Church Media Squad works with are around the 300-500 attendance mark. And these churches don’t have a style or brand guide. They may have a set of colors and a logo, but Michael and CMG still get the job done well without a style guide.
Most churches really don’t NEED a style guide. As long as you know your values and general look and feel you want to achieve, you’re good to get started. Once you start running weekly promotions and circulating a lot of materials, then you can start to look at building a style guide.
A Word Of Caution: Change Slowly
A big problem that Michael sees is when traditional churches immediately flip to try to be a candy-bar church. This can cause culture shock among the church and backfire on you…delaying the process.
Instead, this transition in branding and design should be incremental. Start with designing for where you are as a church. Then over time as the culture shifts, then you can shift the design feel with it. Give yourself a long runway when making changes. (You can read more about implementing change in our interview with Michael Lukaszewski : The Best Way To Move Forward When Your Church Is Stuck In The Past)
First Steps To More Consistency In Church Graphics
The problem with many churches is too many voices influencing what’s being designed. Either they are too vocal in making changes to what’s being done, or they are making their own designs.
The first step to getting more consistency out of your church graphics is to bring down the number of designers to just one or two people. And by “designers” we don’t mean professionals, just people that make any kind of graphics. This is true in a church of 50 as well as one of 5,000. When you limit the number of designers, you naturally create consistency in the designs.
Once you’ve got your consistent designers, you can create templates for each ministry that stays within the look and feel of the brand. These can be done in Canva to make it easy for leaders to make their own graphics, still feel empowered, and not spend anymore money (remember, Canva pro is free for nonprofits).
Here at Church Training Academy, we share everything with each other through Adobe Libraries. Since we are split between north and south Texas, Libraries enables us to share creative assets through the cloud and still maintain consistency while splitting the workload. This is kinda like an advanced version of what you can do if you have Adobe Creative Suite.
If none of the above is available, then put together a portfolio of what you’ve done before that you feel is a good representation of your church. Then when creating new designs, have the designer look at the portfolio to try and match that look and feel.
Creating consistency in your church graphics really comes down to knowing who you are as a church. When you allow just anyone to design stuff for your church, their separate values and impressions will come across in their creative.
Keep the graphic design responsibilities in the hands of one or two people. And make sure those people know exactly who the church is (even if it’s not who you want to be right now).
Once you establish who you are, your designs will reflect that in their look and feel. And as you shift your church culture in the future, your designs can change in increments as well.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to designing church graphics? We want to help you out, so let us know in the comments below!