Many of you probably saw the same article I did about the legal kerfuffle brewing between Best Buy and a priest over his God Squad car. The black VW bug wears a logo rip-off giving it the same feel as the now familiar Geek Squad beetles.
Best Buy sent a cease and desist letter to Father Luke Strand who says he used the car as a ministry tool.
“We were really using the car as a way to bring the Gospel message to the streets…to develop relationships with people and spark conversations with people, and offer them an opportunity to approach someone from the church and maybe talk about what's going on in their life.
I just found it to be a phenomenal opportunity to really spark those conversations with people who might be questioning their life, want to talk a little about where they are in their relationship with God.”
Best Buy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"This was a really difficult thing for us to do because we appreciate what Father Strand is trying to accomplish with his mission. But at the end of the day, it's bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others.”
This whole situation has me thinking about several different things.
You should protect your brand. As we’ve talked about before, your brand is how people experience and interact with you. Because of that, it should be closely guarded. Any organization should care enough to protect their brand, whether it has billions of dollars in revenue or is a small church on the corner. You wouldn’t want an atheist group taking your church logo, changing a word, and using it as a conversation starter would you?
Best Buy’s response is fantastic. The company didn’t use harsh language and it showed respect toward Father Strand. And in a great PR move, they’ve even offered to help the God Squad create a logo that doesn’t infringe on Best Buy’s trademark.
You can’t ignore copyrights and trademarks -- priest or not. Direct copying is stealing. It’s not redeeming something in culture, but instead doing something the Bible doesn’t condone.
Defending the God Squad car sours my overall view of the ministry. I really want to like what the God Squad is doing. I believe they have a heart for ministry and are looking for effective ways to reach people. But when I see an organization being copy cats and then defending that decision, I can’t look past it. That affects my overall view of the ministry.
A unique ministry deserves a more unique brand. God created you to be more creative than a thief. The God Squad could be just as an effective conversation starter if it had its own brand and logo even if it was still on a VW bug.
What are your thoughts on the God Squad case?