1.2 billion and growing

learn from the catholic church

The Professor of Clinical Marketing at NYU, and one of the world’s leading experts on branding, recently predicted that 10 years from now there will only be two categories of brand – luxury and retail. He is predicting the end of branding as we know it. That said, as at October 2018, there is still considerable merit in building a strong brand – whether it be a personal brand, a product brand, or a corporate brand.
But how do you build the optimal brand? This is the third of 5 thoughts addressing this question.

Around the world, Catholic priests have been found guilty of rape and abuse of children. Around the world, senior members of the Catholic clergy, right through to the Pope, have been covered up child rape and abuse. Historically, it was the Catholic church that was responsible for the Inquisition and siding with Hitler (himself a Catholic).

Despite all of this, there are still 1.2 billion people in the world who call themselves Catholic and many more who believe in the teachings of this church. Some 50% of all Christians and 16% of all humanity are Catholic. The only group with greater numbers is Islam.

The Catholic Church is, by any objective measure, a fantastically successful brand.

It has more than a billion members and hundreds of thousands of clergy. Each year it attracts billions in donations and nearly as much again in government subsidies. Millions of people around the world attend confession each week, and many more attend church at least once a week.

It is a fantastically successful brand, and marketers have a great deal to learn from it.

The Catholic Church has:

A very clear set of values that align with its market
A very clear mission and vision – relating to salvation
A very distinct personality that gives comfort to its market
A very defined range of services that are seen to deliver real value
A very distinct positioning that separates it from its competition

For communication of its brand, the Catholic church has:

Icons and symbols to which its market relates
Rituals and customs its markets engage with
Music and poems that the market identifies with
A product (salvation) that its market craves
Constant reinforcement of the mission and vision

There are those who would argue that, if incorporated, the Catholic church would be the world’s biggest business. I would argue that it is already the world’s biggest and most successful brand. It is most certainly the world’s most resilient brand, a brand that has successfully weathered many a storm.

We marketers could do much worse than to study the Catholic brand and emulate the strategies that have been put in place to create and sustain its brand.


Learn from the best. There is obviously a great deal to learn from the branding strategy of Apple. However, there is arguably a great deal more to learn from the branding strategy of the Catholic Church.
This is a brand that has been developed with a comprehensive knowledge of what makes a great brand. Both the branding strategy and the way that brand is communicated are second to none.
Put the facts ahead of gut feelings, habit, and guesswork.


Entrepreneur, Personal Design, Google, Branding, Visual Capitalist, Lindstrom, The Guardian, Zappos.com , Forbes

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