Rebranding the church (a charitable view)
So, over on Main Street Plaza, there’s a discussion about how the Mormon church can rebrand itself. I think people recognize that the church has, for most of its history, had some kind of bad brand image with others for some reason. The discussion centralizes around the words of marketing specialist Gabriel Rossi:
Rebranding is a bit more than changing the design of your logo. Rebranding is a long process (usually takes years) and always requires an inside-out response. You need to craft your brand again from the inside-out. It can be quite challenging, tricky and dangerous. Do it quietly and patiently… I advise companies to invest time in sorting internal issues out first of all. Ask your employees what the company represents to them. Do they understand its story and ambitions? What kind of dreams do they have for the future? Where does your organization want to go taking into consideration the current market place?
Now, while I think that there were some good ideas and good perspectives spoken of at MSP, and I think that recently, how the church has been branded hasn’t been the best…but I got this feeling that some of the suggestions were more idealistic and aspirational rather than pragmatic. Actually, I guess if I had to put my finger on it, I guess the general tone of many comments was that the LDS church is a sinking ship that has already struck the iceberg.
I dunno…depending on who you are, you might enjoy that prospect very much. I personally think it’s silly to think of the church as falling apart by the seams. Regardless of the numbers, whether it suggests that more members are leaving than can convert or many members are becoming inactive or whatever…regardless of all those numbers, I don’t think the church can be called a paper tiger. It still has influence; it still has an organization that people trust, and it still has values that people identify with (even if I think some of those values are regrettable.)
So, what kind of church rebranding would I like to see that I think could be plausible (if they aren’t in the works)?
Well, I guess to start, I’m not really concerned about rebranding of gospel (at least, not in this post). There are enough posts about how the beliefs of Mormons might be the weakest link with new members or old members. So I don’t necessarily think that whether the BoM is emphasized or not, or whether history is promoted or correlated or hidden, or whatever, is the issue. So I’m not going to say that what the church needs to do is change its position on gays or intellectuals or women or whatever. That’s just ideology, but it doesn’t really matter in this case because, whether I or anyone else likes it or not, the church’s values have been proven as strengths.
…I do think that the Preach My Gospel system is neat. I think everyone I’ve talked to who has read up on Preach My Gospel has thought it was much improvement over the old rigid system.
What interests me about PMG isn’t so much its immediate effects on church branding and culture, though. The idea is that…over time, PMG will become the ethic of returned missionaries who will apply that to their teaching and leadership, which will filter through the rest of the church.
Next, I would love a re-evaluation of what it means to “live the gospel.” While I guess the standard seminary answers will linger with us for…ever…I have to somewhat agree with those who bring up that the idea that creating a spiritual benchmark based on reading scriptures/fasting/temple work/home and visiting teaching/etc., seems just a bit pharasaical. However, if the church emphasized more service at a person-to-person level, then I think that would really impact righteousness. I’m sure that when people know how much Mormons care (instead of caring how much we know), then that could reap dividends in membership.
I don’t even know why I’m arguing for more service and people-people stuff. I’m not even all that warm and fuzzy of a person, personally. I’m of a mindset that you should leave me alone and get out of my way. Maybe I should be pioneering for rebranding for introverts. (Then again, yikes for introverts in other traditions)