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Why quality design is worth the investment

This post is part of a weekly series exploring the “Better Together Branding Initiative” a diocesan-wide project helping parishes refresh their brands and digital presence.

In my first post of this series, I touched on why high-quality branding is important and how it’s development within our parishes can more effectively reach the faithful in the communities across the Diocese of Jefferson City. I’m excited by the continued energy and interest in pursuing parish branding development; and happy to report that I have several parishes in the “queue” now – awaiting the start of the branding process!

Today, I wanted to give some insight into that branding process, and why the investment of time and money into professional, high-quality design services is vital to the success of a brand. Though the term “branding” includes the whole gamut of an organization’s visual identity, including color palettes, patterns, photography, illustration and typography, in this post I’d like to focus solely on the logo portion of a brand.

Dynamic, recognizable, captivating logos are all around us. Many times, especially within the Church, I’ve seen parishes, offices and church-related non-profits operate in the “scarcity mentality” when it comes to design work. I often encounter a mindset that says, “We aren’t a Fortune 500 company, so we can make do with ‘this’.”

I have to push back on that; if what we have within the walls of our churches or within the people that make up our congregations isn’t worth the investment of branding at the highest level – I really don’t know what is. When we circumvent the time, finances and additional resources required for high-quality work, we arrive at sub-par design choices.

And what does that produce? We’re in an age where our visual attention is stretched and pushed to it’s limits daily. When we accept sub-par visual design for our parishes, we can’t be surprised when our parishioners (specifically, younger parishioners) begin to perceive that lack of investment as a lack of interest in connecting with them.

I’m not advocating that our focus should shift to the “most expensive logo package” or “most sought after design firm”, but I am proposing we reexamine the processes we’ve used in our visual communication pieces (parish brands, bulletins, and social media accounts to name a few) and shift our gaze to the embrace the abundance mentality.

What does that look like?

Pursing a professional logo design means entering the project with a standard of excellence in mind – one that I would love to help you develop. Having a clear vision for quality is worth spending time on. Here are a few key points a logo should accomplish:

  • Includes an illustration or “mark” that captures your mission, without emulating clip art
  • Recognizable to your target audiences, but doesn’t outright copy others in your field
  • Uses a clear visual hierarchy to organize information without being too abstract or complicated to function when scaled
  • Translates well across all medium and standard sizes (your logo will be used on small business cards, large signs, embroidered on shirts or hats, included in videos, and more!)
  • Come with a branding guide that enables you to use it successfully in all instances, and to pass it along to others to use consistently with your vision

It’s tempting for us to usurp a true branding process (discovery, development, revisions, approvals, implementation, integrity) when we’re also eyeing a limit of resources. Sometimes, receiving a high quote from a professional can feel discouraging. There are several online sources that offer piece-meal design services that accelerate the branding process in a harmful way. While it seems easy to save money by farming out one-time projects in design contests, in the end, the resulting work can miss the mark.

Think of it this way, there are many areas of professional and personal life that we hire credentialed professionals for. When we hire them, we expect a level of expertise and a quality of service from them – and then we step back and let them do what they do, well. Sometimes, it’s easy for us to recognize the “line” between do-it-yourself and hire-a-professional, but when it comes to art and design, I’ll admit it can be harder to recognize the value at the onset.

We deserve the professionals. We deserve the stunning, eye-catching, traditional but modern, emotion-evoking designs that reflect the beauty of our Church. This is why I am so encouraged by the Bishop’s vision for a diocese united in mission to reach the faithful, and believe that his vision of a diocese “Better Together,” especially when it comes to the branding & digital improvements I am able to assist parishes with.

I am looking forward to working individually with the parishes who have reached out already, to help them develop beautiful logos and branding guides that take their visual identity to the next-level, and invite the faithful in across all forms of media.

If your parish is interested in the next phase of this conversation, send me an email or schedule a phone call with me if you’d like to chat one-on-one about how to build momentum or start your branding project today.