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Experience: Your Church Smells Like What?

If you don’t control the elements, people will decide what’s “said” and remembered. The better way? You should help interpret what they’ve heard or experienced.

Church communication is a broad term that encompasses media, design, printing, illustration, photography, advertising, experience, branding, website development, videography, and much more. It’s a huge bandwidth.

Why does everything fall under the communication umbrella? Because the entire controlled experience of “church” speaks to every person who engages with us. Yes, everything speaks.

The entire experience speaks in such a way that it’s remembered. That’s called your church BRAND.

If you don’t control the elements, people will decide what’s “said” and remembered. The better way? You should help interpret what they’ve heard or experienced by controlling everything possible so it communicates who you are, Who you represent, and what you have to offer.

For control, we must look at as many of the human senses as possible: what people hear, see, touch, taste, and yes, even smell (which is often overlooked). Your church brand (what you’re known for) is a controlled cumulation of the emotional contact with each of the senses. How everything speaks.

Once someone engages with you, the aftertaste or memory of what they experienced lives on.

Most church leaders understand hearing and seeing when it comes to the church. But what about smell? What does your church smell like? It’s important to control it. Here are 4 things to consider:

• Eliminate or cover bad smells without feeling like you’re covering something.

Many churches are old. If there are areas in your church that are old and damp, you’ll have musty smells that aren’t appealing. If you’ve travelled for a few days and returned home, you become keenly aware of smells in your house that you’ve become “nose blind” too. Many of our church buildings have smells that we’re used to — but when guests arrive, they smell reality. Fix the moisture problems if at all possible and then scrub or repaint. It’s that important. “Covering” the smell is second choice but guests and members shouldn’t walk in and think that you’re covering smells.

• Your church should smell friendly. One of the friendliest smells today is the smell of coffee brewing.

And rarely does someone criticize it. Want to cover slight smells? It’s best to use food-based smells since they’re rarely offensive. Bakery smells work too. Easiest way? Brew coffee or bake cinnamon rolls to create the smell. But also, there are machines that can be purchased to add the smell into a room or building. Remember though; people may look for the food or drink!

• Be careful of scent allergies.

Because some people have allergies to strong perfume scents, be very careful to not use them. It’s also not wise to use strong smelling “real” flowers in the church (Easter Lilies, Roses, etc.) because of allergies.

• Does the smell match what’s said or seen?

Ultimately, when we experience a brand (think Starbucks), we remember everything about it. We can walk by a mall kiosk and immediately know it’s a Starbucks (or similar). The Bible talks of the use of incense and some churches still have that aroma. It’s all part of your brand. Think about what aftertaste or “after smell” you want to be remembered by. And control it.

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