A page from Hillsong's
A page from Hillsong's "Example Platform Style Guide" offered as a template to churches to provide fashion guidance for their musicians, singers, worship leaders and choir members. Picture: Supplied

Hillsong’s secret guide, text and phone scripts

Hillsong has built its international fame off the back of heavily-curated social media profiles and its seemingly hip and fashionable leaders - but none of it happened by chance.

Internal Hillsong guidelines uncovered by News Corp reveal the extent of the tight grip the church has on its globally recognised brand.

A host of policies dictate everything from minute-to-minute run sheets of its services, strict follow-up procedures for potential new members, and even what lipstick to wear - Candy Yum-Yum or Lady Danger.

 

A page from Hillsong's
A page from Hillsong's "Example Platform Style Guide" offered as a template to churches to provide fashion guidance for their musicians, singers, worship leaders and choir members. Picture: Supplied

 

Hillsong Church's main Instagram page boasts 2.5 million followers and is littered with artistic, filtered shots of baptisms, its congregation, and its award-winning musicians.

Behind the church's online success is a 41-page social media guide that mandates everything from how much space can be left between its logo and the outside of an image, approved colour schemes, fonts and hashtags.

Individual churches are forbidden from reposting photos from Hillsong founder's Brian and Bobbie Houston for "at least" 12 hours to allow them to have "unique content for a period of time".

 

A page from Hillsong's
A page from Hillsong's "Example Platform Style Guide" offered as a template to churches to provide fashion guidance for their musicians, singers, worship leaders and choir members. Picture: Supplied

 

The guide - created in 2015 - boasts itself as a "tool designed to help those who have been entrusted to steward the platform of influence that has been built over time".

Increasing congregation numbers is vital for Hillsong, which rakes in most of its income from donations, and a team of dedicated volunteers are on hand to try to keep them coming back.

Hillsong's follow-up team guidelines, complete with a script, urges volunteers to repeatedly call and text potential new followers - who leave their contact information when signing in to a church service for the first time.

New contacts are allocated to volunteers each Monday in an online platform where notes about previous calls, emails and face-to-face interactions are recorded.

The goal is to have four "successful" connections with each person over a 12-week time period.

 

 

A fashion guide for the platform creative team, which includes musicians, singers, worship leaders and choir members, shows how controlled the church's image is.

In the example - which is recommended to be updated each season - women are told "shoes with a pop of colour will brighten up the platform (stage) and you" and are given a two lipstick shades and six pastel colours that "would be nice to see".

Men are advised to roll up their sleeves and "add a suit jacket, a tie or both to take your look to the next level".

 

 

A minute-by-minute example run sheet gives a glimpse into the level of organisation that goes into Hillsong's famous weekend services.

"10.10 speaker walks on stage. Pulpit with a water table on his left side. 1 bottle of water no glass," it reads before later going on to "10.51 (speaker) prays, 10.52 mentions bible".

While Hillsong is not the only megachurch to adopt a strong level of control over its branding, it is miles ahead of other Australian churches in terms of social media followers.

 

A page from Hillsong's
A page from Hillsong's "Example Platform Style Guide" offered as a template to churches to provide fashion guidance for their musicians, singers, worship leaders and choir members. Picture: Supplied


Australia's second biggest Pentecostal megachurch, C3 has less than 3000 followers on its main Instagram page.

The South-Australian founded Influencers Church and Planetshakers have 1000 and 577,000 followers respectively and the Perth-based Kingdomcity has 9700.

Despite the difference in followers, the Instagram accounts of all five churches are strikingly similar with filtered photos of youthful worshippers, many with inspirational bible quotes in trendy fonts scattered throughout.

 

 

 

Nicola Mansfield, managing director of brand consultancy agency, Interbrand Australia said like any company, churches needed to have an edge to compete in a crowded market place.

"Initially religions were the great brand and I think the branding industry learnt a whole load from looking at what religions had done," she said, speaking generally.

"But now that we're in this age of absolute consumer society, I think religions are now looking to brands to work out how to scale their business and how to drive loyalty.

 

A page from Hillsong's
A page from Hillsong's "Example Platform Style Guide" offered as a template to churches to provide fashion guidance for their musicians, singers, worship leaders and choir members. Picture: Supplied

 

"We see there's actually a lot of commonalities between the way religions and brands are both build and managed."

Ms Mansfield said both religion and brands - which can be thought of as a religion themselves - were servicing "similar needs".

"They're driving self-actualisation, they're driving identity by association and both offer community and culture."



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