Mickey’s Commandments #8: Avoid contradiction

Part 8 in a 10 part series on Mickey’s Commandments as presented by Michael Lingerfelt, former Disney “imagineer”, in a recent conference.

8. Avoid contradiction.

If you could be everywhere in Walt Disney World at once you would never find more than one Mickey Mouse. Why? Because there is only one Mickey Mouse. So if he is at Magic Kingdom signing autographs he cannot be at Animal Kingdom in a parade. Why does it matter if someone in a character costume would appear in two different places at the same time? Because there is only ONE Mickey Mouse.

Avoiding contradiction relates to yesterday’s post about telling on story at a time, but another major area where ministries can accidently cause confusion is in brand identity.

Before I go on, let me quote Phil Cooke on what branding actually is:

“At its core, branding is simply the art of surrounding a product, organization, or person with a powerful and compelling story.” (“Branding Faith“, 2008)

I am not going to explain how to brand something, or to go into detail about the differences between a brand identity and a logo, between an actual brand and how your ministry, church, or organization is identified. There are lots of book out about that. Suffice it to say that when your logo or name is seen, it evokes a brand identity.

Our goal at church is that when people see our logo or read our name, it brings to mind the story of who we are as a church. One of the things we fight is a confusion of brand identity when people use different logos or different names to refer to our organization. A few years ago, before I came on staff, the whole church went through a rebranding process, to reflect the new vision of the new pastor. With that re-branding came a new way to refer to the church. New logos and a new way to name the church were adopted.

To this day, people still name the church something else. Specifically, before it was a common practice to refer to the church as FBCO, or worse FBC/O. Now, under the new rules from the rebranding, we refer to the church as First Orlando or First Baptist Orlando, or if you must abbreviate, then it is FBO. We even fight this for email, because fbcorlando.com domains still work, but we want people to use firstorlando.com.

Why does it matter? As we develop our story, our brand in the community and within our walls, we want people to bring to mind immediately the brand of the church when they see our logo or read our name. We want no confusion or contradiction. FBC/O brings to mind a different, older brand. It’s not a bad brand, there was nothing wrong with that story, but it’s not our current story. It’s not who we are now. We have moved on to a new chapter.

Part of my job is to be the brand police and help educate people on how we refer to the church. Just yesterday I was talking to a group of staff from our church, and mentioned the brand changes, reminding them of the rules in how we refer to our church. A few jaws dropped. Old habits die hard.

But the effort to keep the brand unified, and to keep our story compelling and not confusing is a worthwhile one. We still have a ways to go.