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Best Buy Isn’t Geeked Out By God Squad

Best Buy Isn’t Geeked Out By God Squad

Posted August 25, 2010 by Jerod Clark

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?

Filed under: Branding, Logo, Communications, Graphic Design, Public Relations

About the Author

Jerod Clark

Jerod joined ReFrame Media in 2007 and built Church Juice from scratch. He poured all his passion for branding, marketing, and messaging into the ministry, publishing e-books, blog posts, and speaking at conferences to help churches energize their communications. He also served as ReFrame’s in-house graphic designer. Before beginning his work at Church Juice, Jerod was a local TV news reporter. In 2016, Jerod stepped away from the ministry to pursue interests in marketing and communications on new horizons.

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Comments (7)

  • Tim
    3:57 PM
    Wed, Aug 25, 2010

    I couldn’t agree more, Jerod. Well said!

  • Lorenzo
    5:15 PM
    Wed, Aug 25, 2010

    Interesting, considering the California Highway Patrol has a probelm with the Geek Squad’s cars for similar reasons.

  • Jerod Clark
    11:45 AM
    Thu, Aug 26, 2010

    Interesting indeed.  I’d never heard about the scuffle with the CHP.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Double Agents & Special Agents drive black-and-white Volkswagen New Beetles (dubbed ‘Geekmobiles’) with an orange-and-black company logo on the door. Geekmobiles in California are all-black with white roof and running boards, due to a request by the California Highway Patrol that the vehicles no longer resemble the paint scheme of their police vehicles (a violation of California law)”

  • Lorenzo
    12:45 PM
    Thu, Aug 26, 2010

    ...and the Geek Squad cars here in CA still sport white paint on the roof and doors. At least the cars that I see on a regular basis do.

  • DaveT
    10:49 PM
    Thu, Aug 26, 2010

    Superb post, Mr. Juice!  From a person who is still unhappy with some poor Geek Squad service over a Samsung DVD Recorder…. I must say that it is worth applauding Best Buy in this case.  They were savvy in their understanding of all the ramifications in defending their brand—and handled it perfectly.

    So I take it you’re not a fan of the “cross-modified” Transformers logo for this Christian shirt?
    http://www.devotedclothing.com/store/imgs/Be_Transformed_W-B.jpg

  • Jerod Clark
    4:11 PM
    Fri, Aug 27, 2010

    You’re right Dave!  Can you believe Christians ripping off logos it’s an almost $5 billion a year industry?

    Here’s one that’s a twofor for me.  It combines a couple of my least favorite things, Christian logo shirts and Subway.  That Jared guy made my life no fun for a few years.

    http://www.creationmarketing.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=Hisway&Category_Code=NEW

  • Pedro
    11:02 PM
    Tue, Aug 23, 2011

    Most christian companies are only catering to what christians want. This trend so called ripping off logos is old school with christians and the secular market, I’m sure at one time or another most of us have worn a rip off logo shirt. And if a company follows the copyright laws how can this be stealing? if a modified logo shirt helps you start a conversation to tell someone about Jesus..well glory to God!.

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