The Mormon Brand?

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Branding and logo design seems to pop up in a variety of unusual places. There was a time when only large businesses needed a professionally designed identity; small businesses, schools, and government organizations were exempt. Obviously, these days are past! Now, apparently, even churches need logos and branding and church websites. One church is even aggressively marketing itself with an ad campaign that matches that of a huge multinational corporation. Check out these top 10 church identities.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has taken a few public relations blows lately. Polygamist members of the FLDS, a more extreme sect of the religion, have brought negative publicity. Shows such as Big Love and Sister Wives present polygamy as a mainstream Mormon choice, although the church hierarchy begs to differ. The Mormon Church’s well-known support of Proposition 8, banning gay marriage in California, has garnered a lot of public criticism as well. It is unusual to see a religion aggressively marketed like this, but then it might be just what this religion needs.

The ad campaign, which ran in several different cities, featured billboards and other signage showing people of all races and walks of life, each under the headline: I’m a Mormon. This ties into a new line of videos both on the church’s website, Mormon.org, and YouTube. In much the same manner as the billboards, the videos show diverse people such as a female Hawaiian surfer and a lawyer raised in the projects, all professing a common faith.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spokesman Michael Purdy states, “There’s undoubtedly a national conversation going on about the church and its members, and we want to be part of that conversation.” Fair enough.

Kevin Kelly, who is both a Mormon and an associate professor at the primarily Mormon Brigham Young University, hopes that the campaign will help to dispel some of the misconceptions about the LDS church and its members. “We would like to overcome some of those stereotypes,” he adds.

New York City is one of the targeted areas for this campaign, especially Times Square. Not coincidentally, Times Square is currently home to ‘The Book of Mormon’, a musical that pokes fun at certain stereotypes applied to Mormon missionaries. The church is hoping to present themselves as a diverse group of people, rather than a group of ultra-traditionalists that sends out hordes of naïve, barely pubescent missionaries as portrayed in the award-winning play.

The musical is not the only reason that the church needs to improve their image as soon as possible. Two different Mormons have announced their candidacy for the upcoming presidential election. Unfortunately, one-fifth of Republicans and more than one-quarter of Democrats expressed in a poll that they would be reluctant to vote for a Mormon candidate. If there is to be a Latter Day Saint in the Oval Office, the church will need to convince Americans that they are more than a group of stereotypes. This ad campaign may be a little unusual simply because we are not used to seeing ads for religions, but it is a good start in building the church’s image.