Understand Your Core

Posted on April 14, 2016

Having a branding epiphany is exciting. They just don’t usually happen in the middle of your pastor’s sermon on Sunday. Such was the case when my pastor centered his message last Sunday around the idea that there many different interpretations, beliefs, and applications of faith that are causing division within the church, rather than unity. He submitted our faith must be rooted in one thing, and one thing alone: a relationship with Jesus. Having a foundation in this relationship allows you to have flexibility in understanding and questioning other pieces of your faith. Without a focus on that core belief, we too easily allow the outer rings of dogma, doctrine, and opinion to define our faith, rather than that central relationship.

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The issues the church faces on a global level – criticisms of policy, hypocrisy, fundamentalism, discrimination among many others – are issues that have little to do with the church’s core belief, but rather live in the realm of doctrine and opinion. Newsstands are filled with these stories because they are the most controversial. But these stories and applications of faith have little to do with the core belief that should center the entire church, and in turn, are incredibly effective at creating division of mission.

This message of needing to focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us, is incredibly valuable not just for me personally and for the church, but for all of us. While the church is a far more complex organization than any of our schools, this same lesson must be applied to each of our school’s brands. Not all of our constituents will agree with new programs, new facilities, new leadership, or new directions the school is taking. This ‘newness’ can fly in the face of what many constituents believe your school to ‘be’. Your brand must run far deeper than a singular program, facility, or teacher. If you take time to think about what lies at the core of your school’s brand, and communicate your school’s evolution based on the relationship to this core, your constituents will be able to focus on what unites, rather than what tears apart.

Take time to think about this for a minute. Does your messaging seek to reinforce your central brand, or does it inadvertently create division by focusing on the outer rings of your identity without a clear relationship to the core?

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