An odd thing happened the other day – I told someone that I work in brand strategy. Why is that odd? Because in January I stopped working in branding and now work in sales strategy. I didn’t forget which department I worked in; it was something else. It seems that despite spending most of my career in sales, I’d now prefer to identify myself as a branding guy.
If I view this through a business lens, it shouldn’t surprise me. “Tribal marketing” has been a dominant force in the marketplace for many years. It refers to the decisions that consumers make based upon what the product says about their identity – which groups people prefer to belong to drives their purchasing decisions. People buy Jeeps, Apple computers, and Abercrombie clothing because they identify with the brand, or rather, the brands identify them. It’s also, as my wise wife recently pointed out to me, the reason that the same people who complain about higher gas prices spend $1,000 each year buying themselves a cup of Starbucks each morning.
Through a business lens, my desire to identify myself with spectacle-sporting, jean-wearing, Apple-computing, design-driven, brand specialists makes a ton of sense. Through a Christian worldview, though, it says something less acceptable – that there is pride lurking underneath my conversational faux pas and that I’ve allowed my job description to help shape my identity and self worth. I know better than this – we’re called to singularly identify ourselves as followers of Christ and to be in, but not of, this world .
Proverbs 20:5 reads, “the purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” Sometimes pursuing godliness means being willing to dive deep underneath the surface of seemingly benign behaviors that are easily ignored.