In my Religion & Media class we talked today about our "personal brand." In the same way that companies spend billions of dollars creating their brand, which they hope will be promulgated by their consumers/fans, we too have a brand on an individual level. All of us, no matter our field of work. Our brand is the way in which we are presented to the world around us, whether that be to the person standing in front of us, or to our thousands of fans on Facebook (wishful thinking never hurt anyone).
[By the way, and I'm going to date myself with this, but every time I type "personal brand" the song Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode plays in my head.]
Our personal brand is shaped by us and by those who experience us. It encompasses everything from our belief system to the way we dress. Everything about us communicates something and we have a certain amount of control here but not total control. We are misinterpreted constantly.
So what is my personal brand? To answer that, I have to begin with who I am. What makes me...me? A helpful exercise for this can be to come up with one word descriptors that shape who you are, from your physical appearance and demeanor, to your beliefs and passions. These descriptors can be from your own mind or from what others have told you how they perceive you.
Some words I came up with for myself in no particular order are: Lutheran, Christian, Mexican-American, advocate, casual, liberal, confident, humorous, sarcastic, realist, moody, passionate, caring...one could go on forever if they really let themselves.
After an honest personal inventory, I then take a look at what my characteristics have to offer the world, and then which demographics they will translate well to.
In other words, if a church is looking for a traditional pastor who keeps regular daytime in-office hours, wears a collar all the time and maybe even a suit, keeps his negative emotions at bay in public, is always cheery–you know the kind I'm talking about, the kind of pastor that the Protestantism is full of–then I'm probably not the pastor for them. And that's ok!
Because not everyone is looking for that kind of pastor, nor is that the kind of pastor that everyone needs. The people who fall in this "other" category, those are the people that I believe my personal brand will best fit.
In my ordination application, I wrote that Jesus, time and time again, pushed the social boundaries to open people’s eyes to see that God’s love was to extend to all people: the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the outcast, the sick, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, and every other person that the world was categorizing as unworthy, unlovable, and worst of all…not…one…of us. Today this list would include the LGBT community, minorities, immigrants, children, youth, college students, people of other faiths, and so many more.
I hope and pray that my personal brand will allow me to serve the people that God places in my path, whether that be in the real world, or here.
How about you? Ever thought of yourself as a brand before? No matter who or what you are, you have influence over people, and passions that you would like to share, and your personal brand plays a huge role in all of it. Just don't go making a logo for yourself! ;-}