Smashing Your Brand: Sound, Navigation, Behavior

Martin Lindstrom is a global branding guru and expert on consumer shopping behavior whose work is in demand by corporations worldwide. In his book Brand Sense, Lindstrom reveals how the world’s most successful companies and products integrate touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound with startling results.

Tapping into the complexity of our senses works in ChurchWorld, too.

An overview of Lindstrom’s Smash Your Brand philosophy was covered in this post. Today is the third set of three philosophies (out of twelve total) and how they might be applied in ChurchWorld.

I will be using generic examples, but where appropriate, I will illustrate specific uses of the Smash Your Brand concepts used in my church – Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. A disclaimer: though I am involved in a volunteer leadership capacity, these observations are my own and have not been vetted by Elevation Church staff.

Here’s the next set of three.



Smash Your Sound

Brands the world over underestimate the value of sound.  As an example, think about mobile phones and their ring tones. Chances are you have one or more special ring tones to designate your callers. Personally, I have a special different ring tone for my wife, 4 children, and 3 daughter/son-in-laws. When I hear that tone, no matter what I am doing, I am instantly connected to them even before I answer the phone. Though intended for me, anyone in hearing also is exposed to that brief clip of sound. How could a ring tone be used for branding?

ChurchWorld: The ring tone is just one example of how your brand could be built using sound. Think about sound as a brand element in your facility. Maybe there is a special tune (music and/or vocals) that could be played in your environment that complements your worship service theme? What about music in the parking lot as your guests and attenders are coming in? Then there is recorded music on your website, again themed for whatever event you are promoting.

Elevation Church: Sound is a huge branding element at Elevation. First, we recognize the critical importance of music in our worship experiences. Many of the songs you will hear in a typical worship experience are written by our worship team. They are also available on iTunes for download and listening throughout the week. Our pastor (who is a musician as well) has written and recorded several CDs that are distributed exclusively to volunteers as a token of his appreciation for their service. We have a DJ spinning music as a part of the welcome experience in the corridors of several of our campuses. External music (themed) is heard at the exterior entrance to the buildings.

Smash Your Navigation

Navigation – how you find your way around a website, department store, or any other familiar environment – is entirely smashable. Organizations need a series of consistent links between your website, your mobile phone campaigns, your physical layout, your print materials, and your phone messages because they all link together. Good navigation will cut through the clutter of contemporary noise.

ChurchWorld: For an increasing number of guests, the first door they cross at your organization is a digital one – your website. Is your digital experience consistent with your physical experience? Expectations raised by your website and then dashed by the actual experience are often unrecoverable. Then there is your physical space itself – is it easy to move around in? Are the different elements of what you are doing on campus readily identifiable? Are you using “insider” language that a guest might not understand?

Elevation Church: Surveys have shown that a large number of our guests look at our website before stepping foot on one of our thirteen campuses. To make that transition as seamless as possible, a virtual tour of each campus is available so that a guest will have some familiarity of what to expect. The language of the different elements covered on the website duplicates the actual experience at the campus. Even though the campuses are very different in terms of physical space, the continuity is reassuring. On our four permanent campuses, we make excellent use of wayfinding principles – color, shape, signage, etc. At the nine temporary campuses, we utilize as much of those principles as possible. The critical element at all campuses is the human element – hundreds of dedicated volunteers, each serving on a different team to help move the guest from the parking lots to the buildings through the buildings to the worship area.

Smash Your Behavior

How does the behavior of your staff and team contribute to your brand? Disney provides the best example: the cast members serving in specific areas referencing other parts of the world reflect that culture. In Epcot, many of the world areas have cast members from those areas. On one trip to “France,” my daughter had her portrait done by a French artist, drawn while standing in the shadow of the “Eiffel Tower” as the background. Architecture, wayfinding, and even background items like trash cans have all been integrated to match the specific theme inside the parks.

ChurchWorld: Your organization may not be able to match the level of Disney in this area, but why not match the spirit? Your organization has cultural values and practices that can be enhanced by the behavior, speech, and appearance of your team members. The consistency of these factors plays an important part in reinforcing your brand.

Elevation Church: As previously mentioned, we have a set of values called “The Code.” These values provide a guiding force not only for our volunteer teams, but also for individuals. Special words and phrases have become a part of our vocabulary. Actions consistent with these words are a part of our behavior as well. For example, one of our values is excellence. That translates into how we prepare for the worship experiences each weekend to the over-the-top guest experience we provide to the follow-up materials we use to our group experiences during the week. All these contribute to a consistent and integrated addition to our brand.

Next: the final three – Service, Traditions, and Rituals

inspired by and adapted from Brand Sense by Martin Lindstrom


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *