“We are not changing who we are,” says Alan Sears, president and CEO of the newly renamed Alliance Defending Freedom. “We’re changing how we communicate who we are.
“More than that: we’re moving to transform people’s understanding of what we do.”
How best to enhance that understanding has been the focus of intensive discussions at the ministry for more than a year. Those discussions culminated in the July debut of the organization’s new name … revised with an eye to simplifying, clarifying, and magnifying the focus of the ministry and its impact throughout the U.S. and around the world.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Sears says of the massive internal effort required to make that name-change a reality, “but it’s exciting, too. In the broader culture, an organization’s name, or ‘brand’ is inseparable from its reputation. By changing our name, we’re spelling out as specifically as possibly what we want our reputation to be: an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith. This is an important transition for us and for all of our allies and Ministry Friends,” Sears says. “This change could open up hundreds of new doors: broadening our alliance, catching media attention as never before, and — most importantly — communicating who we are to countless Christians all over the world who need the unique legal services we have to offer.”
Although the transition has numerous internal implications for the ministry, those outside the organization will be impacted most by the new look and name: Alliance Defending Freedom.
“The emphasis remains on the word ‘Alliance,’” Sears says. “That’s of critical importance to our winning strategy: bringing attorneys, pastors, ministry leaders, students, and others together to accomplish what none of us can do on our own.”
“‘Defending Freedom,’” he says, “goes to the essence of what we do, and the active verb underscores that our legal work is engaged and ongoing. It instantly communicates who we are, what our priorities are, and how we do what we do.”
And, Sears says, “as part of our new name and logo, we’ve included a phrase that affirms why we do it.”
For Faith. For Justice.
Ministry research indicates that people respond strongly and at an emotional level to the words “faith” and “justice.” Given that response, and to build off this new phrasing, Alliance Defending Freedom has also changed the name of its primary publication from Truth & Triumph to Faith & Justice.
“This phrase underscores our purpose in building an alliance and in defending freedom,” Sears says. “We want to open doors for the Gospel, and we want to ensure equality before the law for people of faith. Our new logo gives a special intuitive, emotional resonance to that message.”
For some Ministry Friends and allies, that resonance was something lacking in the ministry’s previous name. Many confessed to some confusion, on first acquaintance, with what the term ‘defense fund’ actually meant. That confusion was magnified with the ministry’s growing work outside the United States, where “Alliance Defense Fund” seemed to carry almost military connotations. Eventually, changing the organization’s name became a simple matter of stewardship.
“Confusion costs time and resources,” Sears says. “By providing our allies, Ministry Friends, and potential clients, as well as those who report on our activities in the broader media, with a name that more clearly, distinctly, and directly addresses who we are and what we do, we can maximize the efficiency and the impact of the organization. That’s good stewardship.”
Best of all, Sears says, “Changing our name will allow us to do things we’ve never done before, in ways we’ve hardly dared imagine, and to do them for the glory of God and the eternal salvation of more people than we’ll ever know, this side of glory.” ★