Having worked with (and at!) churches for the past 8 years, we understand how important a good logo is. We've had the honor of walking with dozens of ministries through rebrand processes, and we've seen some beautiful, longstanding brands emerge. Logos are the face with the place. Logos evoke emotions in us. They're tethered to past experiences we've had. They're incredibly powerful tools for building community and developing a common language.
Don't believe me? How do these logos make you feel?
From childhood to holocaust to your favorite Starbucks drink. Consumerism and charity. Some see a Budweiser logo and think of a refreshing, cold beer... Some see a memory of an abusive father. Logos are incredibly powerful.
1. The more detailed a logo is, the shorter its' lifespan.
How many of us have seen a logo with five different things going on? There's an open book with a drop of blood coming out of it, with a dove catching the drop on an olive branch, and the branch turns into a Cross, with three nails on it, twisted into an ichthus... If your logo has gradients, fine line details, more than 3 colors, or more than 2 typefaces, you'll likely be RE-designing your logo next year. Go simple. Choose a dependable typeface (one that's been around for more than a few years!).
2. Logos should be distinctive, not descriptive.
Another mistake people make is feeling the need to have logos describe their entire organization. "Well, because we're a global ministry, that also focuses on serving the homeless and helping them get their GEDs, let's have the logo be a globe with a homeless guy holding a diploma?" We laugh, but you know how those committee-conversations go. Choose an icon or an element that is distinctive. What will allow your church to stand out from other local ministries? What combination of icon and color and typeface will help people remember you? Logos should be distinctive, not descriptive.
3. Versatility is king.
If your new logo can't be stripped of its' color and texture and stand on its' own, you're not done yet. Logos need to be versatile. They need to work as a one-color screen printed shirt. They need to work as white on black (and black on white), as well as applied in any relevant color combination. Will it work in bright pink? Maybe not. That's ok. But does it work in every earth-tone? Does it work in the complementary colors of your primary color? There's nothing more frustrating a few months down the road from a rebrand than realizing how limiting the new logo is. Test your logo in a wide variety of environments before signing on the dotted line.
A good logo design is…
Distinctive. Memorable. And timeless.
It is aesthetically pleasing.
It is scalable, looking good while as large as a billboard or as small as a dime. It looks good in color as well as black and white. And it is simple enough that it can be applied to a media spectrum as broad as paper to plastic and t-shirts to websites.
Most importantly, a good logo communicates the unique qualities of its brand. A great church logo in and of itself does not create great church branding. But it does give a church the foundation needed to build a solid brand.
Below are great church logos grouped by year and listed in alphabetical order. They are chosen for the reasons listed above as well as by my subjective opinion. Keep in mind, I am judging only the logo by itself and not the supporting church branding.
Looking for inspiration? Here are some of our favorite church logos from the past few years.