I am Not Ashamed Adventist Branding Through New Eyes

Adventist Branding Through New Eyes

As a boy, I quickly learned that "Seventh-day Adventist" was generally not a household expression in this country. If I said I was a Seventh-day Adventist, I could expect a response like, “Seven-day what?” Or if there was any recognition they might respond, “You’re the ones that have the big temple in Utah.” I remember actually dodging questions regarding my church affiliation.

Hide It Under a Bushel? No!

Honestly, I guess I was a bit ashamed of our name. I could relate to some early church practices of not advertising who we were when first entering a community to do evangelism. Ellen G. White, however, states, “We are not to conceal the fact that we are Seventh-day Adventists...we need never be ashamed of the truth” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 81).

Times Have Changed

While many still do not know or have not heard of Adventists, our church has gained significant credibility worldwide. It is the eighth largest international religious organization, according to www.adherents.com. Ours is the second largest parochial school system in the world. Our 555 health care institutions are among the finest. According to Nielsen Media Research, It Is Written consistently ranks as one of the top 10 most watched religious programs in this country.

Yet sometimes we are ourselves too bashful about using our name. Ellen White wrote of this problem: (PULL QUOTE) “A company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day Adventists, who were advising that the banner or sign which makes us a distinctive people should not be held out so strikingly; for they claimed it was not the best policy in securing success to our institutions. This distinctive banner is to be borne through the world to the close of probation” (Selected Messages, book 2, p. 385). (END OF PULL QUOTE)

What Others Think

I learned a very important lesson when, in the 1990s, our Adventist hospital system commissioned a nationally recognized marketing company to help our hospitals come up with a new nomenclature with public appeal. "Branding" it’s called, and industries spend huge amounts of money for this expertise. After months of research and focus groups, they came back with their findings and recommendation. We were, they told us, sitting on a gold mine. The best name a renowned secular research group could come up with was...Adventist Health! After looking at all the options this was the name with the credibility that they strongly recommended.

Now as I drive around Portland or all the way down the West Coast to San Diego and see our God-given name on hospital signs and medical clinics, it reminds me that sometimes, “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8, KJV). I honestly doubt that we as a church would have decided on a nomenclature as bold as Adventist Health had we not paid a significant amount of money to an outside organization to tell us what we should use. (Please read the enlightening article on page 32.)

Capitalize on It

If Ellen White were alive today, I believe she’d reiterate her counsel of 102 years ago: “We are Seventh-day Adventists. Are we ashamed of our name?...‘No, no! We are not. It is the name the Lord has given us. It points out the truth that is to be the test of the churches’” (Selected Messages, book 2, p. 384).

I hope we’re learning our lesson. As I’ve often said, people won’t join an organization they aren’t familiar with. Conversely, the more they see "Seventh-day Adventist" on our churches, schools and institutions, they will be able to recognize the message we represent. The more they see it unashamedly associated with our athletes, musicians and individuals or groups who regularly represent our faith in the public eye, the more they will view us as a credible and trustworthy mainline denomination.

Like never before we are positioned to proclaim our last-day message to the world through the unashamed use of our God-given, inspired name.

January 01, 2004 / Editorial