Mixed Signals: You Are Your Brand

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

Some of the best principles of communication are true truth—meaning, what works in business communications also works in personal communications. The more personal businesses make their communications, the easier it is for people to relate to them.

That’s why branding is necessary—it takes an inanimate object and gives it depth and personality that our humanness can relate to.

Conversely, branding principles that work for businesses also work for people. There are specific terms and qualities that people associate with us individually that become our brand. It’s the summation of who you are in the eyes of others. Your brand tells others what sort of person you are and what sort of skills you have. It may be a collection of traits or talents or experiences that you are known for.

If you think you don’t have a personal brand, Jeff Hadden’s Inc.com interview with branding specialist Julia Allison suggests otherwise. She says that “everyone has a personal brand” whether you are aware of it or not.

This concept of branding can carry a negative connotation. Branding may be fine for a business trying to differentiate its offering from the competition—but for people? Developing your own personal brand seems like a bit of an ego trip.

Allison disagrees: “Personal branding doesn’t mean duping someone. It doesn’t mean you’re manipulative or self-aggrandizing. What it means is you are incredibly efficient at getting across . . . who you are and what you stand for.”

I like that. When I am honest and forthright about who I am—my beliefs, my skills, my standards—then people know me and what I stand for. Allison says that your brand “allows people to trust you. When you’re authentic, people can trust you.”

My faith in Christ Jesus is part of my brand—really, He’s the essence of who I am. But sometimes I worry that my weaknesses, shortcomings, and sin will detract from this Christ-follower brand. It tempts me to hide my faith so that I don’t do more damage than good for the cause of Christ.

This sort of fear-based thinking is what the Lord spoke of when He said that no one lights a lamp and hides it (Matt. 5:15–16, ESV). Lamps are meant to be seen. So is our faith. And when I behave in ways that are contrary to the brand I’ve claimed, I can then make amends in the way that aligns me once again with Jesus.

I may not be perfect in representing the brand of Christ, but I want to be authentic in how I walk with Him and seek to follow Him. My hope is this authenticity will be honoring to Jesus and make my faith approachable to those I interact with.

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  • Adam E

    I suppose that the negative connotations come when brands tell us what they are like, and when we interact with them, they are nothing like what they advertise themselves to be.

    A brand really communicates values. People are prepared to forgive companies who have a value of excellence, when they apologise for their screw up and fix it. Social media is a great medium for this.

    I think this is true of our personal branding. When we carry the brand of Christ, we carry a set of values. People are ok with genuine effort to follow those values, and apologise when we get it wrong.

    What people won’t tolerate is false values to try and get a sale, or unapologetic dealings with those whose interactions with our brand is negative.

    Humility and approachability is a powerful part of any brand.

    It’s been said that good branding sells a bad product once. We have a great “product” (to fit the analogy only)in Christ, with humility and approachability at the core.

    I love your marketing analogies!!

    :)