This is Part one in a four piece series on the rebranding of Buddhism. It is important to note that this is not inferring an alteration of the BuddhaDharma or a “stripping” of elements that may or may not be considered “Western”. This isn’t changing the message but it is altering the venue of delivery. It is an experiment in rebranding how a zendo, temple or meditation center is perceived by the public and community. Cheers ~ The Management
As Big Mind, commercialized zen and the internet continue to strive ever forward, the Buddhist community continues to question and attmept to forecast its role in society. Innovative centers nationwide (and worldwide) have seized the opportunity to reinvent themselves, bringing a new level of excitement to otherwise dull and token ritual (*ahem* Japanese rapping monk bartender). Yet puzzlement remains on what strategies, what roles will work in communities where alternatives are so readily available.
Commercial industry may be able to provide a well-meaning hug from behind (platonically) and provide some insight on how to deal with an evolving structure by effectively managing the brand the Buddhist center holds in the community. A confusing concept that is often scoffed at by non-marketers (you know, people with a soul or at least a self-realized Buddha Nature), a brand is the definition of your institution that exists in the consumer’s mind.
Branding is the process by which a company or individual differentiate themselves and stand out from the background by identifying and articulating their value and then extending it with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal. We all brand ourselves it just depends upon the scope. ~ From the Marketing Dude I met at a bar last weekend
Your center’s brand is the space you’ve captured in the minds of customers—it’s all the things that come to mind, all the expectations they have, when they hear the word Buddhist Center. Now, here is the greatest difficulty. Your expectation and understanding of your center’s brand may not be the same as the rest of the non-practicing community. They may *gasp* view it differently. By rebranding, you are not changing your center (at least not that much) but altering the perception of it by producing a consistent message and value. In other realms this is called education or outreach.
While others center on image management or the altering of what you are in order to fit other’s perceptions. I am suggesting that branding is a product of sincerity and authenticity. This is approach is centered in the Dharma.
Part 2 will be featured on Tuesday January 26th.