When I designed the new logo for Mutley Baptist Church in Plymouth I was able to confirm through my research something that I’d long suspected. A large proportion of logo design for churches around the world is terrible!

We’ve all seen the cheap and cheerful parish newsletters and welcome cards and the cheesy picture message postcards or bookmarks from Sunday School. Church logos often follow a similar, amateur theme.

It is understandable, and in no way am I suggesting that a church should go out and splash out their annual budget on a sparkling new logo instead of the many more worthy causes where the money would otherwise be spent. I just find it amazing how, given how many Christian churches there are worldwide and how many graphic designers must be members or attendees at these churches, very few have really inventive or even well crafted logos.

Branding refers to defining the core values and identity of an organisation; aspects which are already defined by the bible.

There is some debate about whether a church should ‘brand’ itself. Branding refers to defining the core values and identity of an organisation; aspects which are already defined by the bible. Branding to make one church stand out above others is another point of contention as the idea of unity, not competition, within churches is key to the Christian message. And if the church as a whole needs any branding, surely the cross is already one of the most long-standing and recognisable logos or symbols in history!

That said, there’s still a lot to be said for good communication and as churches tend to produce a lot of printed material and signage, having a clean, relevant and well thought out logo and consistent visual style is still an important resource.

So I set out to find my top ten church logos from across the world. Here is a selection. I’d love to hear if you have any more suggestions.

No. 10. Mutley Baptist Church, Plymouth, England [LINK]

Designed by: Owen Jones Design

Ok, I don’t feel hugely comfortable blowing my own trumpet but I’m very proud of this logo I designed for my church in Plymouth. I believe it has some solid foundations, clear thinking and is well crafted. The letter ‘t’ in the middle of the name Mutley was certainly helpful, and transforming it into a cross gives a clear message regarding the beliefs and priorities of the church. The flourish embellishing the cross represents the life and organic growth which come as a result of the crucifixion of Jesus.

No. 9. Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church, Missouri, USA.

Designed by: Metagramme

A clear idea and engaging execution give this logo an edge. I personally think there could be a little more refinement made to the curves of the three leaf/root shapes at the base and the font wouldn’t have been my first choice. But it’s a well thought out identity incorporating the concept of the trinity with the name and initial of the church, with some good back up material and application, as you can see from Metagramme’s website.

No. 8. Grapevine Church, USA.

Designed by: Brent Couchman

A nice ‘twist’ on the cross idea, designer Brent Couchman gave Grapevine a very tactile feel, substituting the horizontal bar of the cross with a gnarled vine.

No. 7. Emmanuel Baptist Church, Cornwall, England. [LINK]

Designed by: Neil Tinson Studio / Guild of Sage & Smith

Keeping it simple here, the church initials (EBC) were transformed into rotating graphics which led to a flexible identity system for the church communications. A smart rounded typeface (Omnes Pro from Darden Studio) was used to give a friendly, approachable feel, and the logo was colourfully applied to all digital and printed communications.

No. 6. Christ Church London, England [LINK]

Designed by: Unknown – See Wikipedia entry here

Not a particularly clever or witty logo, but certainly eye catching and professionally executed, CCL is represented by a bright magenta and orange quadrilateral shape with the name reversed out in a clear sans serif font. CCL are a forward thinking church in central London, aiming to stand out and make a difference in a busy city. The logo is modern, bold and simple, and gives great scope for consistent communication. There is a distinct lack of any religious symbolism – something that will almost certainly divide opinion!

No. 5. Northwest Church, USA [LINK]

Designed by Von Glitschka

Northwest Church is described as a ‘diverse group of individuals with a wide range of gifts that serve one common faith’ and their logo focuses on the coming together of that diverse group. As the dots (representing the individuals) converge on a central point, a cross is formed in the negative space. Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota have a similar logo but I prefer Von’s one personally.

No. 4. Jubilee Church, Derby, England [LINK]

Designed by: Unknown

I love the style of the Jubilee logo. The hand crafted feel of the flowing modern type encapsulates a feeling of freedom and jubilance without resorting to childlike scrawling or stuffy, formal scripts. Appropriately positioned and well produced.

No. 3. Crossway Church, Pennsylvania, USA [LINK]

Designed by: The Infantree

The cross is depicted in a very organic and modern way, with leaf/flame graphics creeping up from the base. Type is expertly customised and placed, and colour chosen and used appropriately. A thoroughly up to date and modern church logo. The application has also been handled well and can be seen on The Infantree’s website (link above).

No. 2. First United Methodist, Nebraska, USA [LINK]

Designed by: Oxide Design

A fantastic logo comprising subtle cross shapes in the style of a bright stained glass window. Colour is intended to represent the fire of passion and the water of compassion and works strongly. And smart slab serif typography works well with the mark, as well as integrating well in other applications and communication.

No.1. Swiss Church, London, England [LINK]

Designed by: Unknown

Exactly as it should be, the Swiss Church logo is beautifully simple and to the point. The classic white equilateral cross of the Swiss flag is appended with three white boxes beneath to form the crucifix (although could it be argued it only needed one extra?). There is no type to accompany the logo, and sadly no discernable visual identity which helps apply the same level of simplicity or class to the website or church communications.

However, the symbol is a veritable gift and stands out as a near perfect example of wit and appropriateness in logo design.

Thanks to the following sites which helped greatly in my research for this post:

BrandClay Logo Design Love Church Relevance and of course... Google.