designing ministry, part 1 :: rebrand 2009 :: new brochure

September 23, 2009


part one

This is the first of several posts that will dissect issues of church design with a real-time example unfolding in front of us.  I want to walk with you through our redesigned “look and feel” at Living Hope Church, first unveiled as of the launch of our new ministry year, beginning September 13, and continuing now in several areas of our ministry.  Our prayer is that this “whole new season at Living Hope” is much more than a catch phrase and a new coat of paint.  We are hoping and asking for a supernatural REVIVAL of passion for our mission >> “building relationships that change lives.”

The rebrand, from a design point of view, reflects a renewed commitment to fulfill that mission in our community.  And design is the language of our culture.  Design – both good and bad – speaks loudly to your neighborhood about who you are, who you are seeking to reach, and how much you care.  Design matters.  My aim in this DESIGNING MINISTRY series will be two-fold:

(1)  To communicate my limited understanding of why good design matters in ministry along with some fundamental design principles that will help your church design communicate in the visual language of our surrounding culture, and…

(2)  To walk you through some of the design process we are going through as we try to better visually communicate our heart and vision as a church.  Logos, fonts, colors, signage, web work.  It’s all being overhauled.  And I want you to get in on it with us.

Not a designer?  Totally cool with me.  In fact, I love “pulling back the curtain” a bit for people who don’t live in the design realm.  Maybe you’ll learn a few things along the way, and you may find a new interest awakening in you.  Are you a conservative evangelical by nature?  Me too!  But if words like “branding” and “marketing” make you uneasy when paired with “ministry” and “the gospel,” then maybe over the course of this series, you’ll see that it’s possible (and important!) to use the best design strategy that our culture has to offer when it comes to sharing the most important message of all time.

More theory/philosophy/strategy later.  For now, let’s just get to the pretty pictures…


Target Market:  People coming into contact with Living Hope for the first time.

Purpose:  To provide a basic overview of our church’s strategy and vision.


front and back cover, folded vertically

first page, pastor's greeting and church vision overview

first page, pastor's greeting and church vision overview

page two, weekend gatherings and taking the next step

page two, weekend gatherings and taking the next step

page three, LifeGroups

page three, LifeGroups

page four, FUEL

page four, FUEL

page five, ONE gatherings and a recap of the living hope church vision

page five, ONE gatherings and a recap of the living hope church vision


Here are TEN KEY TAKE-AWAYS from this design project:

(1)  It takes time to produce quality design work.  We began talking about the content of this brochure last winter.  Most of July and August was spent refining the content, looking at drafts, continually gathering/changing/editing photos, revising, and reworking.  If you want your church design work to look professional, don’t think you can crank it out in an afternoon.  Leave margin.  And invest the effort to get it right.

(2)  Clarify the PURPOSE and the TARGET of your design work before you do ANYTHING else.  We knew this would be a “first impression” piece for our church.  Eternal souls are on the line, so we wanted it to be eye-catching and engaging.  This is a Living Hope 101 piece, focussing on BASIC information, because our target is people who do not yet call Living Hope their own.  That determined which information made the cut, and it challenged us to develop a visual “hook’ (the four colored squares) that consistently represent our four core goals as a church.  If this was an information piece for our insiders, it would probably look and read very differently.

(3)  Relationships = people = pictures.  From the beginning, Senior Pastor Bob Halvorson said to our design team, “if our church is all about relationships, then our brochure MUST be full of pictures of people.  More than logos and text, the pictures of our people in relationships with God and with each other… that’s the story and the mission of Living Hope.”  So our primary criteria for choosing images was “does this picture evoke an emotional response because of the RELATIONAL connection of the subjects?”  If yes, we considered it.  If no, the image was shelved.  And we looked at over a thousand pictures to find the ones we used.  That’s part of the reason that…

(4)  It takes time to produce quality design work.  (see #1 above…)

(5)  Less is more.  I don’t think we hit a home run with this principle.  I like open space.  We usually wrote the text and then tried to say the same thing with half as many words.  Carefully worded text carries more impact than a flood of information.  In the end, we cut a lot, but I think we could have been even more sparing with our text and had an even more effective piece.

(6)  Font matters.  Probably the most difficult and nuanced part of good design is choosing your fonts wisely.  Do you want to communicate strength?  Playfulness?  Solidity?  Does it need to be easy to read, or is it more important that it reflects the artistic feel of the piece?  I have two basic rules of thumb for fonts when designing:  I try to limit myself to TWO fonts in any given design piece whenever possible, and I try to keep my use and size of those fonts consistent throughout the piece.  That’s why our “highlight text” is all the same size, our regular copy text is all another size, and I used one font for everything except our main logo and the individual environments on each page.  These rules of thumb will do MUCH to clean up your design’s look, because…

(7)  Our eyes like symmetry.  And this is not limited to our choice of font and use of text.  If you look through our brochure, you’ll see that we tried to line up edges of pictures and text carefully.  Draw a straight line from the bottom of one picture and it probably lines up with the top edge of another, or with a block of text.  When text blocks ran on both pages of a given spread, we worked hard to keep the text on the same plane whenever we could.  This is something you may not “see” initially, but as a viewer you can really “feel” it.  Look at advertisements in a magazine.  Notice the lines.  Symmetry is a high value.

(8)  It takes time to produce quality design work.  (see #1 and #4 above…)

(9)  Never design alone.  EVERYBODY needs a second (and third, and fourth) opinion, because design work, like all art, can become very personal.  If you design in an insulated bubble with no feedback, you end up overlooking glaring errors, and what seems like a great idea in your mind may not translate to the real world at all.  So leave margin for drafts and revisions.  Team effort produces more effective design.  Period.

(10)  And lastly, remember that it takes time to produce quality design work.  (you get the drill…)

Watch for more in upcoming posts.  If you have questions about design and ministry, shoot ’em my way and I’ll do my best to answer them!  In the mean time, pull up a chair, and watch a work in progress at Living Hope with a front row seat.

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“designing ministry, part one :: rebrand 2009 :: new brochure” by Joshua Skogerboe text and images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

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  1. designing ministry, part 3 :: rebrand 2009 :: logo development « - October 5, 2009

    […] you haven’t been with us from the beginning, check out “Designing Ministry” part ONE HERE, and part TWO […]