San Jose-based branding firm Liquid Agency has been selected to update the Vatican’s marketing strategy. Rome officials are looking to the Silicon Valley agency to provide a contemporary and technology-friendly identity for the Church’s global outreach efforts.
The papal rebranding will replace the current identity, which has been used since 1929, when Pope Pius IX signed the Lateran Treaty, creating the newly independent Vatican City. Liquid, located in downtown San Jose’s SoFA district, is expected to produce a more iconic, streamlined look that will better enable the Church to hold its own against competing theologies.
Long an admirer of how Silicon Valley has transformed the way people work, live and play, Pope Francis hopes to refresh the Vatican brand and transform the way audiences worldwide think about the Papacy. Vatican officials have been concerned that the church had dated itself by allowing the media to focus on medieval trappings like smoke signals and ermine-trimmed capes.
In one of his first meetings with the Vatican’s Global Marketing Organization, Pope Francis reportedly inquired about apps and asked, “What is our Social Media strategy?”
Pope Francis’ marketing team was introduced to the Silicon Valley agency through San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone—who is a frequent visitor to companies like Google and Facebook. The Vatican’s Global Marketing Organization reached out and quickly arrived at an agreement on scope and objectives, and Liquid immediately started the process of refreshing the brand.
The move surprised many Vatican-watchers since the Catholic Church has not been known for not making quick decisions. The speed at which the project is progressing is seen as a symbol of what Pope Francis’s commitment to rapid change. “We are super excited to have the chance to work directly with the Pope’s most trusted advisors and help the Vatican’s brand,” said Alfredo Muccino, Chief Creative Officer at Liquid Agency.
Pope embraces crowdsourcing
In an unprecedented move, the Vatican will gain insights and build community support by crowdsourcing to get feedback on the new brand identity. “Pope Francis loved the idea of involving the community of faithful from across the globe,” said Scott Gardner, President and CEO of Liquid Agency.
A number of options will be sent out worldwide in an effort to gather feedback from the millions of faithful. This process will help the Vatican’s highest-ranking Cardinals and Bishops determine which identities should be presented to Pope Francis, who will have the ultimate decision.