Branding church: The role of corporate branding imagery in mainline denominations



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This dissertation considers the role of branding imagery in framing contemporary Mainline Protestant religious practice and definitions of identity. Throughout, it analyzes the implications of what happens when a religious body reconfigures its identity, visually, as a corporate brand. To address this point, the study considers issues of: (1) the origins of religious branding imagery, (2) authorship and ownership of commercial imagery, (3) legal registration and management of image use, (4) image parodies, re-appropriations, commercial applications, and artistic creations based on denominational branding images, and (5) the merging of the sacred and secular spheres in America. To get at these issues more directly, this study utilizes a case study approach focusing on three Mainline Protestant denominational visual identities developed in the latter half of the twentieth century. The images that serve as the crux of this project are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) “Chalice” symbol, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Corporate Seal and the United Methodist Church “Cross and Flame” insigne.



Religion, Denominations in America, Denominational studies series, Idols and images, Church