Your church logo is a visual representation of your church’s brand. It’s not your brand. Your brand is the emotional aftertaste once someone has experienced your church. The story they remember, the benefit of attending, or description of who you actually are. It’s their real answer to the question, "Why do you attend your church?"

Your church logo should be a simple, professional, representation of your church. When people see it, they should quickly remember everything that’s relevant to them. For people who are fully committed to your church, they should desire something with your logo on it. Why? Because it represents THEM!

Your logo is important. Therefore it should be protected, controlled, and promoted properly. Here are five things you should never do with your church logo:

1. Never stretch the file.

People have the ability to take your logo file from the internet or get it from your church and place it in a document. Most people understand they can resize files — but most don’t understand that there’s a way to constrain the sizing so that the horizontal and vertical scale are controlled together. So your logo doesn’t look narrower or wider than it was intended.

In an attempt to “fill” a space, people will warp the logo. Don’t. Learn the key command (often holding the shift key while sizing the logo) so this doesn’t happen. Ever.

2. Never use it on a complex background.

Your logo needs to breathe with lots of space around it. It should also be on a calm, non-competitive background that doesn’t dominate the logo or make it unreadable. Your logo should be quickly seen on all branded material.

3. Never use it on something that doesn’t represent your brand.

Effective brand managers don’t allow their logos to appear in something that’s not appropriate or congruent to their brand.

Be careful when someone says, “don’t worry, you don’t have to pay for the sponsorship! I’ll just put your logo on it.” Always ask for a proof before authorizing it — or ask lots of questions before agreeing!

4. Never make a bitmap file too large.

Your bitmap file (jpg, png, tif, psd, etc.) has a resolution built into it. That means it was intended to be used at a certain maximum size. If you look at the file’s metadata (info area when you right click on it) you’ll see the maximum pixel size (i.e., 400 by 600).

Take these numbers and divide by 72 for screen application, 150 for desktop printing, and 300 for high-end printers and this will tell you the maximum size in inches. Often the file will be placed at 100 percent of the screen size.

Don’t enlarge it. If you do, it will look blurry or pixelated. Always check! The only exception? A vector logo (ai and some eps files) can be enlarged without these issues.

5. Never use it without words on external promotion.

After you’ve used your logo for a while, you may be tempted to use just a part of the logo (perhaps the symbol alone). Be careful!

Occasionally, that can work inside the building or with your internal audience. But resist doing it in an external promotional piece to a potentially new audience. If you must (for a design purpose), always include the complete logo (with words) somewhere on the same piece.