Misusing church brands: problems with the ownership and management of denominational brand imagery in the United Methodist Church

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Trademarked images frequently play an important role in helping contemporary religious institutions establish and maintain a visual identity for their brands. But, these images and the subsequent decision to protect them legally also signify a clash of opinions on authority, theology and rights of ownership. Thus, disputes about trademarked images within religious communities are more than mere negotiations over who can and cannot use a particular symbol, but are ultimately conflicts that end up demarcating the boundaries of institutional membership and revealing a religious body’s (often unquestioned) allegiance to market-based principles. This article explores a case study regarding the United Methodist Church’s ‘Cross and Flame’ insigne, and investigates how tensions over the logo’s proper use uncover implicit statements about the denomination’s position on free market competition in a religious marketplace.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.