The concept of personal branding is really not a new one. Branding really just tells the world who we are and are not, what (or Whom) we love. Our "brand" describes our values and virtues. It communicates our likes and dislikes, our passions, and what makes us tick. Personal branding kind of happens automatically as
I must admit, I’m a bit of a grocery snob. When faced with a choice between brand name items and store brands, I will choose brand name…unless there’s a stupid price difference. If it’s just a few cents, I’m grabbing Libby’s. Just sayin’…
And when it comes to clothes, shoes, handbags…although I will purchase some things at WalMarcus, I really love Michael Kors. It’s a bit of a problem.
Why are we so attracted to name brands vs generic or store brands? I’ve been told that much of the time, the products for each are prepared in the exact same factory! They just put different labels on them. (Disclaimer: this is just hearsay. I have no idea where these things are produced.)
As I’ve been researching “10 ways to make your blog successful,” or “gain 1000 followers in 30 seconds,” I have noted a few buzz words within the industry:
- Reactive themes
- Affiliate advertising
Those are just a few! There is, evidently, so much to learn about making one’s blog “successful.” So much information blows my stinking mind, in fact!
The one word that keeps hanging me up is “branding.” Although I am a Registered Nurse, I work in the Human Resources department at my hospital. Branding is such a big thing these days. In a business, like the hospital, that is completely understandable. And while I get that monetizing a blog is a business, I cannot grasp the idea of becoming a brand myself.
This past week, in my efforts to get my “brand” out there in cyber space, I reloaded my Twitter app to my iPhone and began following several of my Christian heroes. As God would have it (because there are NO coincidences with Him), Beth Moore tweeted, “Nothing is more pathetic than a woman my age trying to stay popular. Not doing it. Got too little time left for middle school Christianity.” (@BethMooreLPM, Twitter). Now, sisters, this did throw open the floodgates with some really insightful posts about personal branding for the sake of our own fame! Mrs. Moore even followed the thread up with a great blog post.
At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, I pose this question: Why, in the name of all that is holy, is branding ourselves even a thing? I’m from Texas! Around here, we brand cattle, NOT people!
As I mentioned, cows are what we brand around these parts. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this process, it involves heating an iron rod (branding iron) over an open fire until it glows red hot. Once it has reached that particular level of heat, the iron is pressed onto the hide of a calf or cow, marking said animal with symbols indicating to whom the creature belongs.
The brand sears through the hair and burns into the flesh of the animal, which has been roped and tied down by cowboys. Sounds terrible, huh? Because it IS! (Now, I’ve got a confession to make. Although I’m Texan, born and bred, I have never participated in, nor witnessed, such an undertaking. I am well versed, however, in the basic principals of the practice.) I can only IMAGINE how bad that much smell! Yuck!
Anyway…once branded, the calf is more difficult to steal because all brands must be registered to their owners. This also makes it easier for wandering bovine to be delivered safely back into the fields of their owners. So, in the world of cattle, branding is kind of necessary, right?
More on Personal Branding
In all the research I’ve done over the past couple of years about having a successful blog, one common piece of advice is “develop your brand.” What the heck does that even mean? I have a theory. It’s probably not what the blogging gurus had in mind, but bear with me.
When Todd and I got married in 1984, the colors we (I) selected for our wedding were light pink and gray. Yes. Pink. And. Gray. It was 1984. It has almost been 33 years since we said, “I do,” but to this day, anyone who attended our wedding is reminded of us when they see that particular color combination. That’s kind of our brand, right? Although the mailman has never fully embraced them, they are our colors. 🙂
I’m kind of crazy about chickens. I can’t tell you how many people tag me in all things chicken on social media. I’ve been branded “crazy chicken lady.” (Which I LOVE, btw!)
The concept of personal branding is really not a new one. Branding really just tells the world who we are and are not, what (or Whom) we love. Our “brand” describes our values and virtues. It communicates our likes and dislikes, our passions, and what makes us tick. Personal branding kind of happens automatically as we live our day-to-day lives.
If this is such a natural thing, why are so many Christian writers so convicted by it lately?
Selling our Souls
Here’s my take on the whole branding topic.
I believe the problem with personal branding is when we attempt to brand ourselves as someone different than who we really are. Back in the day, this was also known as being phony, fake, or a liar. In my opinion, that’s still all it is, and we have become sooooo good at it.
Think about all forms of social media. Through platforms (there’s another buzzword) such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we allow the world to see into our everyday lives…but only what we want them to see. We control the window through which the world views us. Snapchat even allows us to share just a peek into our world before that window slams shut.
Now, don’t get me wrong, some people just throw open all the windows AND the door to their lives, letting all their funkiness air out on the internet. But most of us (preaching to myself here), only show our cyber friends the stuff that earns likes, loves, crying faces, laughing faces, etc. This makes us a slave to the approval of others. (Guilty!)
If that approval does not come, we amp up our game. Our posts become more clever, funnier, sadder, more passionate. We begin marketing our lives, self-promoting in hopes of increasing our followers, our audience, our “friends.” This, beloved, is where we sell our souls. This is exactly where I got hung up on promoting my blog.
In the Name of Fame
I’ve already confessed my addiction to the approval and affirmation of others, so I won’t rehash that. But I would like to touch on the conundrum that develops when an approval addict is called to write or do anything that reaches out to other humans. The need to please can lead said addict to selling out in the name of fame.
I love Jesus! I write because of what He has done in my life. Because He has gifted me to do so. BUT…also for my own selfish reasons. I want to be a published author. To be asked to speak at events. I want this to be the way God provides for me to make a living someday. But the gurus say I need to promote my personal brand if I’m ever going to be noticed.
You see! That’s where they get you! Actually, that’s where the enemy gets us! Even the purest advice on expanding our audiences can be twisted into “fake news,” which leads us to building our platform “in the name of Jesus.” More often than not, those very platforms end up being built over instead of upon His name. When that happens, it is not for His glory, but our own.
This conversation about branding has really forced me to take a step back and examine my motives. After reading Beth Moore’s blog post, I even questioned if God was telling me that I had heard Him wrong and should give up my dream to write. But I’ve prayed about it and still believe that is what I am supposed to do…but with the right motives and for the right reasons.
What Brand Are You?
Have you ever really thought about that question? Trust me! Until I began this journey, it never even crossed my mind. I decided the best place to search for my brand was by asking my Creator. Here’s a snapshot of what He revealed about my brand:
- You are called by a new name that the Lord has given you. (see Isaiah 62:2)
- You’re a crown of beauty in the Lord’s hand. (see Isaiah 62:3)
- The Lord calls you His “chosen,” and His soul delights in you. (see Isaiah 42:1)
- You are a daughter of the King. (see 2 Cor. 6:18)
Wanna hear the best part, though? God loves us so much that He has engraved us (sort of like branded) on the palms of His hands, so that He will never forget us (see Isaiah 49:15b-16). That, my dear sisters, is your brand.
As I continue in this journey toward the great big, only-God-can-do-this dream, I have regained focus. This dream is not about me becoming a famous, New York Times best selling author. It is not about book signings, speaking engagements, or even publishing one single book. My personal brand is not even an issue because the only “brand” I bear is the brand new name the Lord has given me.
My “brand” is Christ follower, and my platform is the altar of the one true King, where I do not stand, but rather kneel.
Blessings, my dear friends!