A few days ago, the Unitarian Universalist Association announced the launch of a comprehensive branding and organization identity effort. See “New UUA logo part of outreach effort” for more details. A high quality full-color booklet has also been published to explain the UUA branding journey.
For most organizations and businesses, it’s a relatively easy task to develop a logo and other visual branding images for establishing a consistent identity. Often that process is entirely handed over to a branding firm.
For many groups and companies, the brand extends to the clothes employees will wear. Many religious groups have an agreed upon dress code that identifies members of the group. The iconic black clothing and long beard of Orthodox Judaism could be considered part of the branding for that organization. Mormon missionaries are easily identified by their white shirts and black name tags with white lettering in thin san serif font. For most corporations or religious groups, there’s not much resistance to the conformity of the message and packaging.
However, the UUA is an organization who’s members are very diverse in beliefs and lifestyles. So, this undoubtedly created a challenge when attempting to convey a single image and icon that would represent the group. In addition, for many people, the concept of branding carries with it the connotation of slick commercializing and slick materialistic merchandising.
In recent years, branding and identity have experienced a transcendence as artists, photographers, authors, musicians, and others have attempted to create authentic and genuine visuals to create a recognizable consistent visual identity. Even groups with diverse objectives and views are increasingly recognizing the benefit of having a united front.
“The dramatic shifts in today’s religious landscape demanded that UUA leadership take an in-depth look at our strategic communications and how effectively our voice is breaking through the competing noise of our high-tech society. We examined our core values, our unique personality as a faith, and the impact Unitarian Universalists hope to make in the world. We asked UUs from across the country, of all ages with various levels of involvement in our faith, to answer three questions: Who are we? What do we do? And why it matters? From these conversations, and more, we began to form our brand identity for the future of our religious movement.” ~ Rev. Peter Morales,
It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the months and years ahead with the UUA Brand Story. You can follow the story on their website, UUA.org.