The church, a remarkable brand

The Roman Catholic Church has earned its spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, the ultimate book about crazy facts, incredible performances and smashing records. Did you think the Leaning Tower of Pisa was the most tilted? Suurhusen has a church that’s even more askew! Recent research by Brandhome has revealed that the Church is also remarkably unique in the brand universe. The Church turns out to be the most valuable brand in the world. In this “BLA” we see right through the Church’s stained glass windows to discover their branding power. Fresher than the miracle fish Jesus caught, here’s a new edition of BLA.

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Church TM

Almost 30% of 1000 Belgian – Flemish and Walloon – respondents think the Church is a brand. That’s because everyone knows the Church, it’s been around for centuries and has really strong traditions. Half of all Belgians would buy something from the Church if it decided to offer (commercial) services. The Church brand would mainly be successful by offering services in the following industries: home care, nursing, book publishing and organising trips, e.g. pilgrimages. Areas for the Church to avoid are telecommunication, insurance (life and funeral insurance) and real estate (selling and renting out churches and presbyteries).

The Church, always a smart marketeer

Using a real or fictitious spokesperson is a strategy many brands like. World-famous examples are Kellogg’s cartoon animals, with Frosties’ Tony as the absolute star. Or what about George Clooney as the face of Nespresso and Martini? A spokesperson can become your brand’s guru.

The Church realised that from the get-go. Jesus and Peter were brand spokespeople from the beginning. The Church brand (wisely) didn’t abandon their human branding strategy. Pope after pope became the representatives of Jesus on Earth and every region has their own cardinal as a delegate. The pope really is a spokesperson like no other. Literally and figuratively: his name is “Your Holiness”. And that’s how you address the Church as well, since the pope endorses the Church brand.

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The Church brand is also a perfect example of the fact that employees are a brand’s best spokespeople: acolytes, lectors, choir members, catechists, staff members of solidarity campaigns such as Broederlijk Delen in Belgium; they all spread the Church’s values with a passion. The brand awareness is raised by this viral marketing and seed-buzz-spread technique. The Church has a strong internal brand identity because according to the Brandhome research, religious people agree on the four core values of the brand: loving your fellow man, fraternity, hope and love. On the other hand, non-believers feel like ‘hypocrisy’ is the ultimate Church value. Heathens gonna heathe!

They came, they claimed…

‘Claimer’ is the Church’s middle name. The Church brand has claimed numerous objects and turned them into typical religious symbols. A bit like Ferrari has a horse as their show pony and Lacoste uses a crocodile to visualise their brand image. The Church brand has claimed a lot of existing objects and also developed new ones in order to claim them. Religious people immediately associate these with their Brand (with a capital B). But also non-religious people make the same association because the Church’s image is so strong. What objects has the Church claimed for themselves? The desk, the altar, the altar bell, the ciborium, the chalice, the cross, the cassock, candles, the coffin… The Church has advertising properties everywhere.

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…and they conquered

All these marketing strategies did not miss their mark. Our research has shown that the Church brand has an incredible status. It’s a so-called ‘griffe’. People who feel connected to the Church don’t see it as a brand as much as those who don’t feel this connection. Nonetheless, the latter are most interested in buying (commercial) service from the Church if it ever decided to provide them. Because of this brand paradox, they call brand like this a ‘griffe’.

Brandhome has calculated that the Church’s value in the Belgian market lies between €300 000 000 and  €500 000 000. If you extrapolate that number to a global scale, the Church is one of the most valuable brands in the world. With a value of 100 billion dollars, it would be the single most valuable one, actually. According to the same method of calculation, the value of Coca-Cola has been recently estimated at a pitiful 45 billion dollars.