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Phil Cooke’s Talk on Branding and Open Media

On the final day of Engage 08, I sat in on a breakout session with Phil Cooke. I was highly inspired to continue encouraging leaders to explore how we’re going to be sharing the gospel as our culture continues to become more of an online culture. The internet was once a web. We could connect, get information, and disconnect. Kids today are growing up in a culture that remains connection continually. I don’t want to share too much of what Phil said since he may share this elsewhere, but I did want to give my own reflections on the talk.

Branding is not a logo or a styleguide, it’s a story. It’s a story that follows a product, person, or organization. People will have perceptions of us no matter what, and branding allows us to coach people in their perceptions.

Visibility and findability are everything. Phil said, “If you can’t be found in a simple Google search, you don’t exist to this culture.” That’s true in many regards, at least in respect to the digital generation. About one out of five people who visit Bethel found us using Google. We spend more money advertising on Google Adwords than we do in our local paper.

And my strongest reflection of all (may become another post soon)… the open media revolution is the modern equivalent of the invention of the printing press. That’s right. It’s been said that whatever the world can do, Christianity can do it 10 years later and 90% as well! I think we ought to be leading out in the “early adopters” mentality when it comes to new media. The church should be blogging, connecting, engaging.

People who live in the cloud of our open media culture are still empty, lost, and destined for hell without Jesus. In fact, emptiness may be at an all-time high in the midst of world crises and the often counterfeit connectedness of modern technology. So let’s be there with the gospel.

One last reflection… face-to-face relationships are still far more important. I’m a huge advocate of embracing new media for missions, but I also believe that one-on-one relationships that can take place across a dinner table are the most important relationships of all.

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