I’m not usually a fan of all the talk in the marketing world about “personal branding,” but I reconsidered when I saw this sentence in an article for Inc.
“ Before you can establish or develop your expertise, you have to decide what you want to be known for.”
– Jayson Demers
In other words, before you can begin to have influence, you have to establish your mission.
It’s easy for Christians to fall into Sunday School cliché answers when asked this question. “Jesus!” we shout, always ready to give the expected answer. Too often, though, no one stops us to say, “But how? What does that look like? What does it even mean to be known for ‘Jesus?’” The context of “personal branding” brings a new perspective, forcing us to ask ourselves how we are perceived by the world (or just the world wide web). After all, as the popular saying goes, your brand is not what you say you are, but how others see you living out that identity.
What will you really be known for? Not “What do you think others want you to say?” or “What do you feel like you should be?” or “What do you wish you wanted to be known for?” Instead, take the time to consider what you will intentionally decide to be known for and pursue.
Let’s take it back to the social media marketing world’s concept of “personal branding.”
- If you were a brand, what would others associate with you?
- What would your logo look like?
- Would your slogan match up with what you “sell”?
- What would you invest in?
- In kingdom terms, how “profitable” is your brand? (Proverbs 3, Titus 3)
I try to challenge myself and the ministries I’ve worked with to always bring it back to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). When we argue about the little things, when pride gets in the way or we get stuck in a rut, I keep returning to one question: Does it make disciples?
Sometimes the answer isn’t that simple, but the question is. If we have decided we want to be known for making disciples, period, then the rest falls into place. We can have influence on the world around us because we have made the first step. Every other decision is made clearer because we have established our purpose. When the destination is set, all that’s left is to find a route.
Though we are all called to make disciples in some capacity, my main question doesn’t have to be your main question. Yours might be more specific or focused on your gifts and calling. You may have different “brands” you will be known for in different seasons, areas of life or ministries. You might want to be known for being a God-honoring parent, a compassionate teacher or a mentor with a spirit full of grace. Just start with that “brand,” whatever it is you feel God wants you to be known for, and ask your main question to center yourself when life gets confusing, stressful or routine.
Does this make me a more grace-filled mentor? By doing this, am I becoming a more compassionate teacher? Does this make me a God-honoring parent?
Once you have your defining “brand” question, you can carry it with you throughout each day, however long it’s relevant. You don’t have to be a business guru, social media expert or marketing executive to formulate a personal brand that creates a life and legacy that points others to Christ.