A couple of weeks ago, Cora’s school asked me to do a “Lunch and Learn” for the students. Her teachers know that I’m a pastor, as well as part owner of a marketing company, and clearly they were not wanting me to come and discuss the ins and outs of a career in Jesus, so…marketing won that round. I explained to the career counselor that we were a “strategy based ground level branding company” and we did much more than just print tee shirts. I think she understood, so we set our date to lunch and learn.
What does a middle schooler need to know about branding? EVERYTHING!
With the rumblings of the Coronavirus and school shutdowns beginning to happen everywhere, I walked into the classroom with hand sanitizer in one hand, and all my props in the other. Looking at all those awkward faces made me remember how hard middle school was. So, I began my talk with some things I knew they knew about.
“What do Teenagers, Hydroflasks, Vans, and Apple all have in common?”
My answer to their puzzled faces was, “They are all original, unique and well made.” I then asked them what these items don’t have in common (insert pubescent blank stares here). I proceeded to tell them that the big companies have learned how to tell the world how amazing those products are, but teenagers have missed the mark when representing themselves to the world. I pressed in a bit more and said, “You are far more unique, special, and wonderfully made than you think you are.” I then presented a 4-step plan to them called, Teen You Branding Strategy.
This branding strategy applies to all of us, not just teenagers.
Step #1: Be for Something. Since God gave you unique gifts and talents. Your one job is to share them with others. Share your talents through what you want to be known for – art, sports, communicating, coaching, dance, teaching, or caring for people or animals.
Step #2: Be Kind. There are brands that are filled with hate and anger. But they never last and well, they honestly kinda suck. Chick-fil-A built their brand on kindness and quality and now they are #1 in fast food. And now, I want some chicken nuggs.
Step #3: Be Intentional. Pick something and go for it. Who cares if you fail along the way? Better to fail than to never try. Thomas Edison said this about failure, “I haven’t failed — I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Step #4: Work Hard. Working hard is attractive, and necessary. Most successful people put in a lot of hard work and effort before becoming successful and accomplishing their goals. Working hard also means to get back up after a setback. Don’t give up…get up!
I had a blast at the school that day, and compared with the lock down we are currently under, this extrovert wishes he could talk to a bunch of middle schoolers all over again. Anything to get me out of this house! OK, on that note, I think we need to look at some Scripture.
I was reading Matthew this week, and realized Jesus also had a branding problem.
The Jewish leadership, which were Jesus’s people, just didn’t get Him. Even when Jesus shot it to them straight, they didn’t understand. Check out Matthew 9:12-13 in a couple different translations below. This is as blunt as it gets!
“But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘ I DESIRE COMPASSION AND NOT SACRIFICE ,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
“I’m after mercy, not religion. I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”
“It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”
Jesus then goes on to consistently brand himself over the next two years. Be for Something. Check! Jesus always and forever will be for you and me! He was kind, intentional, and worked tirelessly so that you would know that you are loved – no matter what. Check…Check…Check!
If the walls are closing in on you too, maybe it’s time to work on your branding. What if we use our platforms to communicate less Coronavirus memes and more of how unique and wonderfully made we are? Show off kindness and intentionality to those in our community still serving us in hospitals, grocery stores and garbage trucks. Most importantly, do not give up. Better days are ahead.
In His service and at yours!