Michael Marchand knows parishes. He’s been a youth minister for ten years and he helps run ProjectYM.com, one of the largest youth ministry sites in the world.
During his years of experience he’s noticed a common problem. People routinely ask the same question:
How do I get better graphics for my parish or ministry on a very limited budget?
When it comes to graphic design, most Catholic parishes are way behind the curve. They typically do one of two things:
1) Publish ugly, pixelated, and out-of-date graphics.
2) Rope their youth minister into designing all the graphics, posters, and fliers for the parish—even if he or she has no design experience.
In an ideal world, every parish would have a full-time graphic designer on staff making sure that everything they put out (both in print and online) is beautiful and well-designed. But very few parishes have that kind of budget.
So most parishes have been stuck. Until now.
This morning, Michael unveiled an exciting new service called ParishDesigner.com. Check it out:
I asked Michael if he would be willing to answer a few questions about ParishDesigner.com, and he kindly agreed:
BRANDON: You’ve worked in parishes for a long time. Why do so many of them have trouble designing beautiful graphics?
MICHAEL MARCHAND: It’s true. I’ve been in full-time parish ministry for almost 10 years, in four different parishes, and not one of those parishes publishes consistently beautiful graphics. In fact, most of the “design work” that comes out of most Catholic parishes is embarrassing.
I think there are three key reasons that so many parishes have graphic design trouble:
First, it’s nobody’s job. There is no one on staff who is in charge of visual media, which means every staff member, every department, is cobbling together their own graphics—and chances are those staff members are not trained or skilled graphic designers. The end result is sloppy, inconsistent, and unprofessional graphics.
Think about this: more people see the graphics your parish puts out (bulletin, website, Facebook, signage, etc.) than hear the music at Mass on Sunday. Most parishes have at least one full-time person coordinating, organizing, and running the music at your parish. The end result (hopefully) is a consistent, polished, and professional sounding choir or band. What if you had at least one skilled and professional person handling all the graphic design needs for your parish? The end result would be consistent, polished, and professional graphics.
Second, we’re not willing to pay for it. Honestly, for some parishes it doesn’t matter if a graphic designer charged $50 or $5,000—they just don’t see design as something we should pay for. We’d rather have mediocre graphics created by a volunteer (or an overworked youth minister who made the mistake of telling someone he knew how to use Photoshop) than pay someone to do it well.
We think what we are doing is “good enough for ministry”.
However, both of the above problems are really a symptom of a third:
We don’t think design matters.
We just don’t. Our parishes have created this false idea—bordering on delusion—that people will automatically come to church, get involved in ministry, donate their time, and give their money. If that was really true, then we wouldn’t need good graphics or any kind of marketing, outreach, or evangelization. But you and I both know that’s not the case.
BRANDON: Why does good design matter?
MICHAEL: Because people are drawn to beautiful and expressive imagery.
Because images can quickly communicate complex messages.
Because images create instant engagement with your content.
Because people remember imagery far longer than text alone.
The fact is, we live in an increasingly visual world. Take a look at sites like Instagram, YouTube, and even Facebook: they’re all built around visual media.
Visual media is the language of the world we live in. Thus it’s the medium we must use to evangelize. Jesus spoke in parables, and we need to speak in videos, memes, Instagram photos, and websites.
Take a look at the images your parish is producing (print, digital, web). Are they beautiful and expressive? Do the communicate effectively? Are the engaging and memorable? Do they add value to your message or distract from it?
We have been entrusted to share the greatest news of all time, and we should be using every tool at our disposal to do so. We need to give up the mentality of “good enough for the Church”, and strive for excellence, beauty, and professionalism.
BRANDON: Today you announced ParishDesigner.com, a brilliant service for parishes who need great designs on a budget. How does it work?
MICHAEL: It’s build around the subscription model—something that has been popularized by companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon.
When your parish signs up for ParishDesigner.com, we assign you one of our full-time, professional graphic designers. He effectively joins your staff and is now part of your team.
Each month, your designer can create up to three complete design packages for your parish. For example, if you’ve got a parish mission coming up, you send us the theme, dates, times, etc. . We’ll then create a poster for the narthex, a postcard to mail to your parishioners, and a Facebook graphic to promote it online&mdaash;and that’s all just ONE design package! For each package you’ll be able to choose from flyers, posters, social media graphics, tshirts, postcards, letterhead, business cards and more. We’ll send you the digital files, but we can also go ahead and get things printed and shipped to your door!
The beauty in the subscription model is that you always have a designer on call—and even better, you’ll have the same designer working on all of your graphics, so there’s consistent and professional branding.
BRANDON: How much does ParishDesigner.com cost, and how does that compare to hiring a freelance graphic designer?
MICHAEL: When we first dreamed up the idea of ParishDesigner.com, the primary goal was to give parishes the ability to have high quality, custom designed graphics at a price point that would fit any church’s budget.
But we also wanted to make sure we were able to hire a great team of professional designers so that parishes got the high quality graphics that every ministry deserves.
Finding the balance between those two goals is difficult…
If you went looking for a professional graphic designer to put together a design package for a major event at your parish, you’d easily spend $200, $400, $700, maybe over $1,000 depending on the designer. Good design can quickly add up.
Let’s say you found a great designer willing to do the work for $200. Chances are, no matter how happy you were with his work, you’d probably only use his services a handful of times a year (if that many). Not because you don’t want great graphics for everything your parish is doing, but because you don’t have an extra $2,000 or $3,000 in your budget.
So then how does ParishDesigner.com plan to offer THREE design packages a month “at a price point that would fit any church’s budget”? Even if we were able to cut that bargain designer’s rates in half, you’d still be looking at $300 a month or $3,600 a year, for three monthly design packages.
I’m guessing that’s not in your church’s budget. (I know it’s not in mine.)
But we’re hoping this is:
$75 per month.
That gets you a professional designer, cranking out three design packages each and every month for your parish. That’s only $25 per package!
I have some even better news:
Right now, we’re in our BETA launch phase. Basically that means we’re only taking on small number of parishes to test out this new model (and by small I mean only 25). If you sign up now as one of those BETA parishes, you’ll get an extra 30% discount! That’s three design packages a month for only $52.
So visit ParishDesigner.com and sign up today!