The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


What's in a name?

Branding leaves its mark on ELCA social service providers

Branding isn’t just a phenomenon in corporate America. It’s crossed over to ELCA-affiliated social service providers that seek to develop clear, consistent communication about their identity and mission.

More than a label on a cereal box, a brand is “a trustmark—something people recognize and trust,” said Kristi Bangert, executive director of ELCA Communication Services and an expert on branding.

Bill Serr, president/CEO of Graceworks
Bill Serr, president/CEO of Graceworks Lutheran Services, and marketing manager Pam Blumensheid look over logos that were considered and rejected, as well as the new logo (left) selected for their ELCA-affiliated social services institution.

Bangert and other proponents say a brand helps people clearly associate a name, identity, logo, promise and positive connection with an organization’s mission and programs. It also differentiates them from competitors. Branding strategies look for ways to improve overall communication efforts and can involve subtle or significant changes to names or logos.

Nearly 10 percent of ELCA social service providers changed their names in the last decade, said Ruth Reko, ELCA director for social ministry organizations. Some were due to mergers, while others were tweaks to vague or narrowly defined names, she said.

Yet for ELCA social service providers, branding is still relatively new, said Jill Schumann, president/CEO of Lutheran Services in America, an alliance of the ELCA and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and their related social ministry organizations.

Branding pioneers include Ecumen (formerly Board of Social Ministry), a Minnesota provider of housing and services for older adults, and Lutheran Social Services of MidAmerica, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, which this year became Graceworks Lutheran Services.

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

text size:

this page: email | print

March issue

MARCH issue:

All are welcome