When Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs said they were “doing God’s work”, he was working hard to recover the investment bank’s reputation by piggybacking on religion.
For the Catholic Church, however, even this obvious approach doesn’t seem to be working.
Despite clear evidence that the Catholic church is about as wealthy as a brand can be (Consider, for instance, The Economist’s estimate from 2010 that the Catholic church spent $170 billion in that year alone), it isn’t without myriad problems.
For many, all of the repeating headlines from church-approved sexual abuse and the following cover-up of those abuses has irreparably damaged the Catholic brand. Worse yet, though, may be the threat of irrelevance.
Pope Francis’ easy charisma and charm may have given the church a boost, but it still continues to falter.
Even as the church tries to refocus core brand strongholds, such as representing the vulnerable, and campaigns focusing on peace, poverty, migration and the environment, those campaigns stand in stark contrast to the social and cultural values the church continues to espouse.
Quite simply, the values espoused by the church are in direct conflict with what most of the world believes is right. And history teaches us that isn’t a good way to keep a brand relevant, much less help it thrive.
We can see this clearly in the Catholic churches own numbers, such as in the decline of congregations across large parts of Europe and in North and South America.
As a result, the brand is failing. The Catholic church no longer fills a need from many humans, nor does it create a comforting distraction from other problems in our everyday lives. Instead, we may be more likely to see the church as yet one more thing that is wrong.
As a result, more and more would-be churchgoers feel unwelcome in the Catholic church. Gay clergy and members are forced to mask their identity if they are to remain. The LGBT Catholic community monitors gay-friendly Catholic parishes. Many have split from the mainstream church – and the threat of schism over homosexuality continually looms.
And far fewer Americans are religious each year.
And this isn’t just the case of the Catholic church struggling. Worldwide, many religions are facing pushback. From political Hindus suppressing dissent, to the murder of blasphemous bloggers by Islamists, religious brands are struggling with change.
And this makes sense. Like all brands, religions, too, have to serve their consumers, or else they die. Even the oldest of these brands, like the Catholic church, is not immune.
h/t: the conversation