(This post is the third in a 3-part series.)
- Two weeks ago we talked about choosing 3-to-5 words to describe your brand.
- Last week we talked about re-branding in case you feel like you’ve developed a brand you aren’t crazy about.
- This week we’ll talk about whether your faith [and the word “Christian” specifically] should be part of the brand you use at work.
What words did you choose? What do those words mean to you? What do you think those words mean to other people?
One of the points I mentioned the first week is that this list is for you, to remind you of how you want to act at work. It’s not for you to have tattooed on your forehead for others to see. But it’s not a bad idea to know what others’ initial responses are to your branding words. What are their first thoughts (and perhaps, any baggage associated with those words) when they hear them?
If you say “I’m innovative” , some people see that as code for being an original thinker. For others, that’s code for “this gal is looking for a trendy word to describe herself, but if she has to say she’s innovative, she probably hasn’t had an original thought in years.”
There are more potential interpretations for the word “Christian” than there are for “innovative.” An article by Cathleen Falsani in the Huffington Post, the Trouble with Christian Labels, demonstrates that words like “Christian” and “evangelical” are defined in multiple ways (and not uncommonly negatively).
Does it mean you’ll be extra nice and not swear (which may be some people’s interpretation of “Christian”)? Does it mean you’ll put a few strategically placed Bible verses up as decorations on your desk? Does it mean you’ll fight for justice and the oppressed?
Show, Don’t Tell
“Show, Don’t Tell” is an old adage for fiction writers. It’s the idea that it is more effective to allow the readers to “experience the story through a character's action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the narrator's description.”[i]
It applies to our personal brand as well. We aren’t going to tell someone we are thought-leaders, honest, imaginative, influential, teachable, creative or any of the other words we came up with. We are going to show our colleagues that we are those things. We want our colleagues to experience our brand.
So what kind of experience do you want to create as a Christian?
Your faith is the foundation of your brand. It influences each of the words on your list. Use a verse from scripture to emphasize each of the brand words you chose. For example:
- “Encouraging” - sarcasm is an often-used method of communication in a lot of work places. Do you want to be known as someone who builds others up? Proverbs 15:4
- “Excellent” - create excellent products, keep an excellent attitude, because you are working for God. Colossians 3:22
- “Creative” - there are plenty of people who don’t believe in Jesus who are creative, but your creativity is modeled off God’s character, who was the ultimate creator. Romans 1:20
Putting the word “Christian” on your branding list and trying to act Christian-y is a bit messy. Figure out the attributes of God that are most needed in your workplace and let them drive your brand. Your faith is the foundation of your brand – all of it – not just one of the words you put on a list.