The Southern Baptist Convention is considering a name change. “SBC president Bryant Wright has appointed a task force to explore the poss of a name change of the Southern Baptist Convention,” read the tweet from Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay. That’s the kind of news that gets a branding professional all fired up. It’s not hard to reason that not all Baptists are southerners and therefore the current name no longer reflects the true nature of the organization. While I’m not part of the SBC decision-making process or involved with this project, I hope the task force considers these branding laws as they explore a new name.
A new name does not mean you have a new brand. New packaging without changing the product or experience only goes so far. Churches that changed their names in the mid 90’s to appear more community friendly but failed to change the experience learned that such strategy often backfired. People came expecting something different than what they got. It’s the classic “bait and switch” approach. A brand is made when the name, packaging and product deliver on the brand promise. And does so consistently over time.
Align your organization’s name with its brand promise. It creates a powerful communication tool. But in order to determine what the brand promise is, you must understand the organizational vision that drives the strategy that creates systems that delivers products. To go through a re-brand without understand this sequence is to miss a great opportunity in helping position the SBC in the mind of its audiences. FedEx is a good example of how name and brand promise go hand in hand. The Federal Express name implied its promise: fast delivery nationwide. Once it grew past national borders, the company’s new name, FedEx, help it transition to a global brand while keeping the brand equity it had nationally.
Don’t undervalue your internal communication strategy. A re-branding launch strategy must take into account multiple audiences. The assumption that your internal audience understands and supports your new efforts is an erroneous and even dangerous one. I have seen denominational name changes go down in flames during a vote because of the assumption that key influencers were on board with the plan only to find out during a national convention that they opposed it. It’s easy to focus on your outside audience and forget that your internal stakeholders needs even more communication.
How do you feel about The Southern Baptist Convention changing its name?