An excerpt from my conference's weekly announcement email:
UPDATED SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST LOGO It now includes the registered trademark ® symbol. Update your stationary, business cards, newsletterheads, church bulletins, and other printed items. Use the ® after the first use of the word "Adventist" in a document. Adventist Church Connect websites have been updated. Contact www.adventist.org/logokit to download the updated logos.
There you have it. My "identity" as an Adventist has been trademarked. Why would I want to be a part of a worldwide movement when I can sport a global brand?
Sarcasm aside, what I see here is the culmination of a long, misguided attempt on the part of the General Conference (GC) Communication Department* to control the meaning of the name "Adventist" from the top down. There's an history of legal action around this issue (some of it justified) that isn't necessary to rehash here. My point is that there are two major problems with this strategy.
- They're defending a brand that has minimal market penetration as if it had major market penetration. A 2003 a study found that only 56% of North Americans had heard of the Adventist Church, and of those one sixth knew nothing about it beyond that fact it was a religion. My point is that at a time when we need all the viral marketing help we can get, we're actually banning websites that aren't run by the church bureaucracy from having the word "Adventist" in their title (e.g. Sabbath Pulpit "formerly the Adventist Pulpit").
- For a communication department* that is reputed to be emergent and postmodern and [insert hip label here] this a very unclassy move. In a generation that is over-advertised and suspicious of religious institutions, that little ® screams, "Join us, so we can get your money!" Seriously, that ® is going to do more damage to our image than the Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church ever could.
Now I don't want this to be an anti-Ray screed. I think his department has done a lot of good things lately. But it seems to me, from where I sit, that Mr. Dabrowski has some 'splainin' to do; and I am open to that explanation.
(There are two possible responses that will mean something significant to me: (1) Ray Dabrowski comments on this blog and offers an explanation, or (2) I get a communication from the GC asking me to remove the official logo.)
*It has now become clear that this decision did not originate with the Communication Department, but with the Office of General Counsel, directed by Robert Kyte (see the comments).