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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Marketing and branding all too often are looked down upon --- especially when it comes to issues of faith. In BRANDING FAITH, Phil Cooke explores the dos and don'ts of communicating your message in the modern age. As a television producer and media consultant, he has worked with a long list of clients and has been given a front row ticket to what connects with this generation and what does not.

Cooke recognizes that we're living in a media-driven culture. The ways that people get their information and evaluate it has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Unfortunately, the church and many non-profits have failed to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of communication and ideas. The result is that many great causes are not only losing their voice, they're getting lost in the shuffle.

Cooke writes, "The key to effective branding is that a successful brand isn't what you say it is; it's what they say it is. For instance, it doesn't matter if the local food bank is the best in the nation if word leaks out that it's giving away tainted produce. It wouldn't matter if you're a brilliant pastor if your congregation thinks you're a hack. And it certainly won't matter that a humanitarian organization is global if nobody's ever heard of it."

These kinds of challenging ideas penetrate the book, causing readers to reflect not only on the organization they want to promote but also the very words, design and ideas used to promote it. One of the best chapters, "Telling Your Story," looks at the taglines of individual advertising campaigns and the importance of understanding who you are so that you can effectively tell your story. Cooke is quick to remind readers that visibility is just as important as ability. After all, if no one knows you exist, it doesn't matter how excellent you are. The beauty of the chapter is that Cooke encourages you to find your "honest voice in the middle of the media madness." He wants you to discover you're real you and make that the basis of your branding and marketing.

Despite all of its strengths, the book does have a few weaknesses. Cooke has a tendency to repeat his information multiple times. At some points, the manuscript feels like it's drawn straight from one of his presentations and didn't make the full translation from spoken word to written word. While some of the conclusions drawn from his anecdotal evidence seem like a stretch, the vast majority offer colorful illustrations that display the issue well. A slight annoyance is that Cooke is all too quick to remind you that he is a speaker and a consultant, and that he has a busy schedule. But maybe that's the nature of marketing, and if so, it's well-displayed.

BRANDING FAITH is a must-read for anyone who works for a church or non-profit; there is much to be gained, discussed and thought about. The truth is that far too many books of this nature are available for non-profit and faith-based agencies. As a result, this title is a much-needed resource and I'm glad Phil Cooke tackled the subject.

--- Reviewed by Margaret Oines
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Ok, I've been in the marketing and branding biz for secular companies for nearly a decade before I began serving faith-based organizations. This is hands down the most foundational book on branding written exclusively for ministries. Phil was able to address one of the most critical areas of Christianity in our mass media culture and communicate how branding is key to a ministries success and its failures. If you are ministry leader, Pastor or media director-- don't bother with other books on branding-- you'll get the education you need to build from this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it has helped me communicate to our ministry clients. Thanks, Phil.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I have worked with churches and nonprofits for my entire career and this author knows whereof he speaks. The resulting book is a valuable resource both for those who are marketing / communications professionals and for those who need to get brought up to speed very quickly. This book comes out of the authors real-life, hands-on experience with some of the largest and most successful ministries in the world. He is a guru, and this book is worth every penny.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is astounding! Every chapter captivates the essence of the issue and the strategy to shift our thinking. Any pastor who reads this and doesn't come away with practical, well-formulated change for his church is either inadequate as a leader or too interested in maintaining the status quo.

Real-world, any-sized-church-can-do-this, practical information and strategy consume every chapter, giving traction to a church leader's thoughts and actions. This book is the summation of nearly every authority on branding written in the unique context of mission for the local church.

I was enthralled with how Phil took some of the best thoughts from a variety of both secular and Christian experts and gave us new and inspiring insight. Churches must deconstruct our views on branding and marketing and reconstruct our vision to understand that true relevance is found when our brand represents our mission and significance.

Don't dismiss the concept of branding for churches until you've read Phil's insight and understanding. You'll realize just how wrong most people's perceptions are when it comes to this oft-criticized term in the church.

I will be making "Branding Faith" required reading for every church leader I know. Thank you, Phil, for writing one of the most important books in our time of change.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Why Branding Faith? Simply put, because everyone has a story and most of us want to share it but we just cannot assume that everyone wants to hear it. In our culture today there are a myriad of people that have caught onto the fact that if you want to be noticed then you have to be able to position yourself relationally with those around you in order to effectively tell them your story. Sadly, most of us in the faith arena have wrongly assumed that since we have the "ultimate story" that everyone will want to hear it but we have failed to position ourselves in order to tell them. In this book, Phil Cooke does a good job of explaining not only how our culture has changed but how to effectively communicate our story to that culture. Buy it, read it, and position your story to be heard.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a fan of other books written by Phil, but this one is great! I am praying that Pastors, ministry leaders and directors apply these principles. This book lays down the foundation to get it right. Pastors need to know who they are and where they are going, there is too much confusion in the body of Christ. Really, its no wonder we have 100 million people unchurched and unsaved out there, as Christians we don't know who we are and where we are going. We confuse ourselves, but this book puts it out there, and gets the body of Christ straight. Its a must read, for those seeking a better understanding of branding the church and or the ministry
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
"Marketing" is a bad word in church circles. It implies manipulation, impure intentions and other chicanery. This is not without reason; corporate marketing has become a science, with companies spending millions of dollars to understand the psychological and sociological impact of advertising. Many Christians, understandably, believe it would be unseemly -- if not sinful -- to employ modern marketing techniques on behalf of the Church.

Phil Cooke's 2008 book, Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Nonprofits Impact Culture and Others Don't, seeks to change some of these perceptions. Cooke specializes in the intersection of faith and media and acts as a consultant helping religious organizations to better tell their story.

Branding, according to Cooke, is all about the story that surrounds a business or organization. It's what immediately comes to people's minds when they think of the organization. With this in mind, he challenges Christian organizations to think carefully about what makes them unique in the world so as to better share their story and help people understand who they are and what they stand for.

Cooke does an admirable job of pointing out the potential dangers in "over-thinking" marketing efforts. He devotes an entire chapter to how churches and non-profits risk losing their identity to marketing "gimmicks" and trying to chase relevancy - and how potential parishioners are turned off by such efforts. I was especially relieved to see Cooke emphasizing the personal relationship between the organization and the individual:

"In a world in which few people have close friends, expand your community and get to know people. Enlarge your network of really close friends. Perhaps it's becuase I was raised before the digital age that I still value face-to-face communication far more than phone conversations or email."

That having been said, the book should read with some discernment. Cooke, understandably, speaks almost exclusively from a Protestant point of view. Emphasis is placed on the importance of preaching (an emphasis which is complementary to, but different from, the sacramental view of liturgy in the Catholic Church) and, as a result, puts a heavy emphasis on the importance of the leader's communication skills.

Nevertheless I think there are some good insights for any Christian organization trying to understand how to share its passion and invite others to work with them. It will certainly challenge those who think that marketing has no place in the life of the Church to reconsider their position.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 9, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
"Reaching the next generation isn't about political power; it's about branding power. It's not about what we're against; it's about what we're for. It's not about changing the culture from the outside; it's about changing the culture from the inside." That's what Phil Cooke says in this book, in my opinion perhaps the most important Christian book to have been published in 2008.

Phil Cooke is a filmmaker and media consultant, with a PhD in theology. His book is the most compelling answer that I have read so far to the question, "How can churches most effectively communicate with outsiders within today's cultural context?" The book, whilst acknowledging the dark side of branding and the negative perceptions associated with marketing, demonstrates how telling your story is an exercise in branding. A branding exercise involves asking the questions: Why are you doing this? Who are you? What are your gifts and talents? What makes you different? The answers to these questions provide the key to creating your unique voice.

Branding, according to the author, is about creating and maintaining trust. It is not about attempting to run a church like a business; businesses exist to make money whereas churches exist to communicate the Good News. However, every communication that a church makes, whether through printed materials, verbal interactions or building design, contributes positively or negatively to the church's brand. Branding is vital, because the effectiveness of a church's communications depend not on the content itself but on the hearer's perception of what is being communicated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I don't have to tell you that we live in a heavily media-driven culture. The very fact that I'm posting a review about this book on the internet is proof of that. With that we have access to so much information, so many images, so many logos, that many can get lost in the masses. In Phil Cooke's book Branding Faith he really shares his expertise as a media consultant and the experience he's had working with churches and non-profits. Towards the end of the book, he says this and I think it sums it up perfectly:

"Branding isn't just a matter of brochures and website designs. It's the story of your organization expressed through customer service, building design, uniforms, procedures and policies, employee training, and much more."

My original thought when I started going through this book is that well, it's designed for media pastors and anyone dealing with coming up new brands, but as I continued in the book, there is so much more information that is great for anyone that is connected with a brand in any way. Especially when it comes to a ministry it's so important to not only know the brand and being able to recognize it, but to be able to share what it stands for. The brand communicates everything about the ministry or company and what they stand for. It's so much more than an image, but as Phil says, it's a story. But for those that are involved in the process of coming up with the brand, there are things to look for and ways to cut through the clutter of all the brands and images that are out there. It's a very practical book filled with lots of great information.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book lays out some concepts that some people are hesitant to accept. But I believe that once you read it, it will be like a light coming on in part of the room you hadn't seen before and didn't know it was dark over there. Then you'll wonder why you didn't do something about it before.
Your church/company/ministry/etc. has a brand whether you like it or not; whether you call it that or not. It's what the world around you thinks about it and you. Think of that other church/company down the street. What do you think of it? That's it's brand! The 'story' it tells is the 'brand.' So what story are you telling? What do others think about you? Want to change that story? Want to change your brand? Enjoy the book!
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