I've been designing logos for three decades. I studied visual branding in college before computers were used. It was a real art form to hand create a symbol that would be combined with a font, and together it would represent an organization. Often hundreds of hours were required.

Logos are still the most difficult things we create for churches. It's like buying clothes for a friend and telling them to never change for 5 to 10 years. A good logo should last that long and be used on everything you do.

A great logo is a piece of art with foundational meaning and longevity. Every person in your congregation must be proud of it, and your community must be attracted to its style.

Does your logo do that? Be honest. Here are five signs your church needs a better logo:

1. It's overly religious. A logo design needs to be unique. If only religious symbols are used, your logo starts looking like ... a bunch of church logos. It takes much design skill to make a religious symbol fresh and different. If "church" is in your name, you don't have to have a churchy symbol.

2. It's complex. Flat simplicity is the current visual branding trend. Complexity has never been a requirement for a logo (only a crest). If a middle schooler can't quickly draw your logo from memory, you have something that's too complex. Complexity limits its easy usage! A church should want to use it everywhere, all the time.

3. It's like another church's. Sadly, churches today often "borrow" another church's brand and make it their own by changing the words. Not only is that unethical, but it's also not recommended. You need a symbol that can be trademarked (if desired). In the internet world, your unique presence will attract people to your solution and benefit, and it shouldn’t be discovered on another church's website. It makes you look bad.

4. It's tacky. When houses of worship started to modernize their logos a few decades ago, many armchair designers created branding that was substandard and, when compared to other professional branding (think Apple, Best Buy, Target, Pepsi, etc.), you realize you have a logo most would describe as tacky (or awful). If most in your church wouldn't wear your logo on a tee with pride, you need a new logo.

5. It needs an explanation. Trying to be clever, bad designers create "deep" logo designs that have hidden or buried messages that no one would understand or discern without a long explanation. Sure, if you have a cool, simple logo that has a secondary message that is foundational to your church message or solution, that's fine. But a logo shouldn't rely on a discussion to tell its story.

The church logo should make your ministries stand out in a marketing cluttered world and make a guest feel comfortable walking through your doors. Yes, it's a lot of hard work. But totally worth it.