The Intensive Conference: Full of Nuggs and People Who GET It.

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I spent some time in St. Louis this week attending The Intensive conference, a gathering of creative people around the country ALL ABOUT CHURCH COMMUNICATIONS.

I’ll be honest: This trip came at a good time for me. I don’t care what career you’re in (… that sounds mean. I do care), it gets hard and tiring and frustrating and flat out silly sometimes when you do the same thing every day for several years. Even good jobs become difficult because those pesky humans keep showing up and doing things imperfectly.


Kelley Hartnett and Mark MacDonald were the featured speakers, and they are fantastic people I’ve had the privilege of knowing a few years now. They had nuggets upon nuggets upon nuggets (and a man needs his nuggs) of wisdom I’m going to dive into a bit in a second, but I’ll be honest: my favorite part of this conference was being with people who Get It. I was in a room full of people who Get fonts and colors and deadlines and projector cables and volunteers and Macbooks and Andy Stanley and Parks & Rec and Panera. And they’re also the kind of people who noticed I capitalized Get and they understand why.

They just Get It.

Beyond that, though, I took away some practical, helpful things as well as some bigger picture reminders about stuff I do every day that sometimes I just need to remember. Here are three of my faves:

Branding is Important.

I’m a big fan of good branding, but I have to admit sometimes I struggle explaining why. It just is and I get it and HOW COME NO ONE ELSE DOES. A couple helpful thoughts:

  • Your logo isn’t your brand; your logo points to your brand.
  • A great definition Kelley shared: Branding is the “emotional aftertaste left by an experience.” Let that soak in.
  • A brand is successful if it’s known for a solution to a problem.
  • Brands help people make decisions quickly. I thought this was brilliant:
    How do we make choices?
    We make them based on what we know.
    Make sure you are known for something.
    Give people the tools they need to make the choice you want them to make.
  • Differences make you stand out. Don’t be bland; no one will care. “We do pretty much everything” is not helpful.

Less is More.

  • This is Mark’s sweet spot, and the subject of his book. His whole deal is the idea we should be known for something. One something. As he says, “The more things you want to be known for, the less you’ll be known for anything.”
  • Specifically in church world, we like to offer a jungle gym full of activities for each specific people group and mmaayybbbbeee tie in some religious angle and hope people show up. As Kelley reminded me, “The purpose of the church is not to get people to show up to stuff.” Many Christians are more wrapped up in attending activities than they are about being Jesus to their neighbors. And they’re tired. Because we (the church) keep them (very) busy. The church needs to be known for something, and it shouldn’t be making people busy and tired. We need to give people a chance to be a good disciple and not just do a bunch of stuff.
  • If everything is equally weighted, nothing matters.

But Most Importantly, I’m Ok.

“It is not possible to do your best at everything all the time.”





It’s a messy balance, but there are days and seasons when we have to be ok with “good enough.” That is not an excuse for mediocrity, but it is a reality of being human. Not every single thing I make will be awesome. Sometimes that’s my fault (I’m tired or uninspired or busy or lazy or just out of ideas), and sometimes I have to make logos for a children’s program called Candy Cane Lane.

Try to make that cool. I dare you.

A common theme of the last session was you’re better than you think you are. I needed that reminder.

I have pages of notes in Evernote I just went through again and a few new books to read. Several new friends also posted nuggets of wisdom on Twitter.

Overall it was a good experience, and I’m grateful I work for a church who believes in investing in their staff. Rest is important, and I forgot how refreshing it is to just simply be with people who Get It–whatever your It is.

So you should do that, too. Maybe you can’t drive to a conference in St. Louis in a rented Hyundai Accent that for some reason keeps playing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” from my iPhone every time I plug it in, but community is important, and I was reminded how much I needed it.

Recap: Branding is important, less is more, and you’re good at what you do. Three good lessons for all of us!

Published by mattehresman

Crafting and spreading messages that matter.

One thought on “The Intensive Conference: Full of Nuggs and People Who GET It.

  1. I can’t believe I get to work with you Matt. You are WAY too **everything positive and wonderful** for my world. Thanks for being the uniqueness that is YOU!

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