Thoughts on The Southern Baptist Convention Name Change

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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.

sbc logo Southern baptist convention

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?

 

 

  • http://www.mresforsale.org/ar/ebay-mre.php Ebay MRE

    Because not all Baptists are southerners the current name does not reflect the true location of the people in this particular Church denomination, therefore the name change is long overdue.

    • http://www.maurilioamorim.com Maurilio Amorim

      I believe most people in the denomination feels the same way.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    The name and the logo are both overdue. 

    • http://www.maurilioamorim.com Maurilio Amorim

      The mark is dated for sure.

  • http://tomjamieson.wordpress.com Tom Jamieson

    I’m still on the fence regarding the name change.  There is definite merit in favor of the name change, but we still have a tremendous history of sound theology and defense of the gospel that needs to be built upon moving forward.  Hopefully we can find a way to build a bridge between the two.

    • http://www.maurilioamorim.com Maurilio Amorim

      Tom what you described is what we call “brand equity.” The challenge is how to serve the present, set up for the future without losing the foundation of the past. But vision is what determines that not merely a new name. At this point is more about leadership going forward.

    • http://www.maurilioamorim.com Maurilio Amorim

      Tom what you described is what we call “brand equity.” The challenge is how to serve the present, set up for the future without losing the foundation of the past. But vision is what determines that not merely a new name. At this point is more about leadership going forward.

      • http://tomjamieson.wordpress.com Tom Jamieson

        That makes sense.  I definitely agree with your third point in the post — I have attended many of the annual convention meetings over the years and too often there has been an inherent disregard for the current internal audience, which is those who will ultimately vote for or against the proposal.

      • http://tomjamieson.wordpress.com Tom Jamieson

        That makes sense.  I definitely agree with your third point in the post — I have attended many of the annual convention meetings over the years and too often there has been an inherent disregard for the current internal audience, which is those who will ultimately vote for or against the proposal.

  • http://tikesbestfriend.com/ Tim Dahl

    William Thornton of SBCPlodder has a post up about this. You can find it at http://sbcplodder.blogspot.com/2011/09/sbc-doa.html.

    He makes some valid points, especially that this has come up and been put down over at least a couple of generations. About every five years or so.

    While I would like to see a name change, I’m afraid that it won’t pass. They just don’t have the votes. The younger generations (Gen X and Gen Y) don’t show up to vote, the Boomers won’t be there in force, and those that do (Builders) are going to vote against it.

    They BGCT was going to do this a few years ago, and the Future Focus Committee dropped it due to the lack of votes from the floor. However, they did something sneaky (and effective). They did a “Doing Business As” change; which didn’t require a floor vote! So, if you look at the material, their website (http://texasbaptists.org/)…you’ll see that they effectively did a name change!

    So, I can see the current heads of the SBC going this route if they really think they are doing the right thing. But then again, to many of this top down stuff happening may have the same affect the BGCT/TBC is seeing…churches are leaving. 

    TL;DR –
    1. I’m for the name change.
    2. I don’t think it will pass a floor vote.
    3. There’s a work around, but it could be disastrous.

    Tim

  • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

    I’m not part of the SBC either, so it doesn’t really affect me if they change their name. However, I’m always a bit leery about denominational name changes because, like you mentioned above, a lot of times the idea is that changing the packaging is all that matters. I like to see internal changes that push the need for a name change, rather than a name change push the need for internal changes.

    Great post Maurilio!

  • Barry

    I think they should pay me a lot of money and I’d tell them to name it the (duh) Lifeway Convention.

  • Lisanne

    I think it’s just another way for an organization to beat around the bush about “Who” it is that they truly represent. SBC? For Pete’s sake, I had internet service with a company by that name! If you’re about Jesus, then you need to be about Jesus! Why does everyone want to suddenly ditch their direct association with Him? Campus Crusade For Christ did the same thing. They switched it up to “CRU”.  What is that? Makes me thing of the world of gangsta rap! I can understand wanting to slide in under the radar so to speak, but in my opinion, these name changes sound more like denial. And you can’t compare a change like this to FedEx. FedEx started out as FexEx, they didn’t switch gears in midstream to reinvent themselves. My suggestion? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You are the Southern Baptist Convention, stay the Southern Baptist Convention.

  • Tony

    Depends on what they change it to.  And I agree that just changing the name isn’t going to matter, but also changing the way things are done. Because if it’s the same as it was before, probably pretty much the same people are going to come that came before. 

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    I think a lot of organizations fall into the trap of thinking “A new name does not mean you have a new brand.”

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