12 Comments | Jan 08, 2010

Creating a Ministry Theme/Logo

Also, see post on annual church theme ideas.

For 30+ years the North Valley Baptist Church has had a yearly theme.  Since 2001, I’ve had the privilege to create a logo and a look for the new year.  We also have an annual youth conference, pastors’ conference, and missions conference.  For each of these conferences, there is a theme and design that goes along with each.  I must admit I’m not the greatest at coming up with the logo and theme.  It is usually a challenge, but a challenge I welcome and enjoy.  Here are some thoughts on how I design the logo and overall look for each theme.  I hope it’s a help.

1. Brainstorm

Brainstorming from by MikeOliveri

Once I receive the theme for the year or the conference, the first thing I do is brainstorm.  I’m privileged to work with some amazing and talented people.  I love to grab a coffee with some of the people I work with and respect.  While sipping coffee we will brainstorm about the year’s theme. (Coffee always helps me think better) This is a time to throw out as many ideas as possible about the theme.  For instance, this year’s church theme was “consumed with compassion.”  We tried to think of everything that relates to that theme – images, words, colors, etc.  In the case of “consumed with compassion,” here are some of the things we came up with (heart, hands, tears, fire, fervency, people, empathy, yellow, orange, red, etc.)

The idea is to get as many ideas as you can.  Encourage all types of ideas, even if they are not that great.  You can sort through the ideas and throw out the bad ones later.  This is not the time for criticism (constructive or not).  That will come later.  Some may find it useful to have a specific number of ideas you want to come up with during the brainstorming session.  This may help you to really focus and put down as many ideas as possible.  The more ideas, the better the possibility for a breakthrough.

2.  Scour

scour the internet

Once you have brainstormed, the next step I take is scour.   I try to scour the internet for ideas relating to what we came up with during the brainstorming session.  For “consumed with compassion”  we looked at many websites for ideas.  We searched for heart, tears, fire, hands, etc on quite a few different sites.  Here are some helpful websites. – You can actually purchase pre-made logos here. – a great looking logo showcase
Google Search – I searched for “compassion” and visited and other sites for inspiration.  Also, I checked out google images for “compassion” to see if I could get inspiration. – I search their vector images for logo/theme ideas

Depending on the theme, I may check other websites related to the it.  For instance, Youth conference is a football theme this year, “Get in the Game!”.  Last year it was a EMT (police, fire, paramedics).  2007 was a boxing theme.  For Youth Conference themes I will check out many websites about football, EMT, boxing, etc.  I also love to take “road trips” to places related to the theme.  We’ve been to NFL training camps, boxing gyms, fire stations, etc. for inspiration, pictures, and for filming.

I save and file many different ideas from my scouring to reference on the next step.  Remember to respect others work.

3.  Sketch

logo sketches from by by Mike Rohde

Once I have brainstormed and scoured, I like to sketch out designs.  I just have a paper and pencil and start to sketch ideas for the theme.  Believe me, it doesn’t always come easy.  Many times, we sketch dozens of logos before we find the right one.  I then work on the logo in Illustrator or Photoshop.  Don’t give up.  Look at what you’ve filed and saved for inspiration and ideas.

4.  Submit

submitting logo design for approval

After you’ve sketched out an idea and mocked it up in illustrator or Photoshop, now is the time to submit it for suggestions/approval.  Be prepared to make changes.  Don’t be upset if they don’t like it.  Take constructive criticism and work to make it better.  Sometimes I get “the nod” on the first try.  Other times I have to submit many ideas before we have the logo/theme we use.

I hope this was a help to you.  What you do when creating a logo or theme?  What steps do you take?  Where do you go for inspiration and ideas? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Chris Adkinson 9:20 am - 8th January:

Bro. Moyer You are the man. No better way to say it. Thanks for the tips and info, and taking time to help brothers in need!

Robert Lane 9:44 am - 8th January:

I like the compassion logo’s simplicity. The other anniversary logo is a nice crest and makes a formal appearance. Great job!

For designs that are a little more illustrative I use a process by Von Glitschka outlined here: His logos are also a great inspiration as well.

Michael Moyer 11:06 am - 8th January:

@Chris: Thanks, I wrote this because you asked for it. I don’t feel like I’m very good at it, but these are the things that have helped me.

@Robert: Thank you for the kind words and the link to Von Glitschka’s site. I’m looking forward to learning more about this subject!

John Burkholder 6:24 pm - 12th January:

I love your Compassion design. I design all the banners etc. for our small church but I can see that you are a few steps above my level of experience. How about a “tutorial” on how you designed that one? I have Adobe Master Suite CS4 (for 1 year only), but there is still so much I don’t know how to do.

Michael Moyer 10:51 pm - 12th January:

John, thanks…That particular design went through many different iterations before we found a design that worked well. I’m afraid a tutorial of it may be a bit too long.

Brother Hite 6:11 am - 30th January:

Brother Moyer, How should a newbie get started? I want to incorporate the North Valley level of sophistication into what we are doing here at Calvary First, Baptist Church in MS, but it is only me and I have no experience in design, adobe, iterations, etc. but I need to start. I want church calendars and tracts and the bulletins and themes and bookmarks and invitations and conference themes and such. But I don’t want it as a black and white text only.
What are your suggestions for the novice? How/Where do I begin?

Yours in Christ,
Brother Hite

Michael Moyer 1:10 pm - 1st February:

Pastor Hite, You have to start somewhere. North Valley has not always had such nice material; we’ve had to grow. If you have a mac, there are programs to make designing easy for “newbies” like iWeb and Pages. You can always try to find someone with experience that has a bit of time on their hands. If you want to learn to do it yourself, it will take time. You can start by doing tutorials online. There are many great resources available online. I hope this helps!

Kate 2:58 pm - 20th May:

Good description of process! Quick question: how do you address/deal with the “speculative” aspect of your process (“Sometimes I get “the nod” on the first try. Other times I have to submit many ideas before we have the logo/theme we use.”)? Do you receive better vision/info up front on the designs that “the nod” right away? Or are you designing throughout a “vision development” process?

Michael Moyer 1:02 pm - 21st May:

Hi Kate, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I try to get as much direction as possible before I begin the design process to make approval much easier. I also have been working at the ministry here for about 9 years, so I have a pretty good idea of the pastors likes and dislikes. That said, sometimes it takes a few iterations before I get the final logo approved. I would just suggest getting as much direction and input before you begin designing. That will make your job much easier.

Bro. B 10:56 am - 29th November:

Bro. Mike,
Thank you for the information. It is a great way to get started. Do you have a list anywhere of themes in the past? Having a place to start or a list of idea’s to get the pump primed is a great help. Your work is AMAZING!

Bro. B

Scott 2:48 pm - 6th January:

I was wondering which program you use to create your logos, themes and slides.

Michael Moyer 12:13 pm - 7th January:

Scott – I use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for all of our printed designs.

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