Your Ministry Brand Needs Soft Power

If you’ve ever studied international relations you’re probably familiar with the term soft power. The phrase was coined by Joseph Nye, Jr., in his book, The Paradox of American Power, as he was explaining the different types of power that carry global influence. Hard power is pretty straightforward in that it is coercive and largely based on military might and economic strength. On the other hand, soft power represents the non-coercive side of influence.

What is so intriguing about soft power is its relationship to ministry branding. Nye describes it as being, “Like love, it is hard to measure and to handle . . .”

If you are evaluating a strong ministry brand, you will run into similar obstacles when measuring and handling its width and breadth (value, influence, etc.). In addition, the building process for a legitimate ministry brand and a country’s soft power is very similar and it can be summed up in one word: incremental.

No one would argue that the soft power that we (as a country) have developed suddenly appeared. It has taken centuries to grow to what it is today (albeit less than it used to be). In the same way, ministry branding doesn’t happen overnight as the result of a high-powered board room meeting and three dimensional graphs. It is a lengthy process of establishing the foundation (Core DNA), and building a living, breathing, organic entity that is your ministry. The process involves hard questions, writing, seeking wise council, prayer, deep thinking, relationship building, gaining of trust and respect, and words/actions that are in alignment with the ministry’s established DNA foundation.

One of Kerry’s branding tips states that “The best branding in the world can’t compensate for bad behavior since that too IS branding.” The emphasis is behavior. Good or bad, behavior impacts your brand. Similarly, Nye says it well, “We can attract (or repel) others by the influence of our example.”

How are you branding your church or ministry?

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