Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Branding Jesus

No, this isn't another post on tattoos. Branding is something anyone involved in the business world is probably all too familiar with. HSBC is in the midst of a huge branding push, especially here in the US. "Leveraging the brand" is basically making sure that customers get excellent service and (more importantly) know who they're getting it from. It's remarkable to think of just how valuable various brands are: Nike, Coca Cola, Starbucks, etc. The primary thing that makes a brand valuable is the reflex association that comes to mind when someone is confronted with the brand; good association=valuable brand, bad association=worthless brand. Example: Starbucks can get away with charging $5 for a cup of coffee because of what that coffee represents: 1) a great cup of coffee 2) a comfortable atmosphere where you can hang out as long as you like 3) a free drink if yours doesn't come out right or even if you just don't like it 4) a cup that looks so cool, most other coffee shops imitate them. Starbucks is basically selling a lifestyle...and doing very well at it.

What does all that have to do with Jesus? Well besides the obvious fact that Jesus, being perfect, probably would have drank Starbucks, there is a parallel for Christians seeking to practice acts of kindness and mercy in Jesus' name. In card services, part of our problem is that the portfolios we carry have different names. We don't want people thinking they're talking to GM when they rave about their customer service to their friends...we want them to know it's HSBC they just spoke with....the world's local bank (sorry, reflex). Yet, the challenge is communicating that without sounding hokie. Here's what I'm driving at: how do you give a cup of cold water in His name without people thinking you're doing it just to be a nice guy? Or even worse, without saying, "I'm doing this because Jesus wants me to" or the like, and sounding like you're only doing it for divine brownie points. My question grows out of a concrete situation - wanting to extend the love of Christ to an unbelieving co-worker. The co-worker is very aware that I'm a believer, but somehow that doesn't seem like enough (t0 me). I want them to comprehend that it is the "love of Christ that constrains me." Any suggestions?


Booker's Rambles said...

wow you have hit a real problem on the head! it is so easy for us to put on the christian smile and make people run a mile when we really what to share something of our faith.

I think the only thing i have learned is that the better you get to know someone the more willing they are to ask questions. Your post said this persons knows about your faith...maybe you have to pray and wait for the oppertunity to ask a question or make a throw away comment on the news or a family situation and see if they bite?

I think the big problem comes when we are in more of a hurry than God in these things...How many times had Jesus seen Peter at the nets before he said follow me?

MOsborne20 said...

Thanks for the edifying post. I would try to answer the issue wholistically. Doing something "in the name of Jesus" is something that others will never be able to "see" as in distinction to other kind acts that others do not in the name of Jesus. Do our hearts burn zealously for the name of Jesus among those to whom He is a stranger? Whenever that happens it's miraculous (and wonderful).

I would also say that as citizens of the kingdom we are those who are wiling to walk the extra mile or give not just the shirt off our backs, but our coats as well. In other words Christ's sacrificial love sets the "limits" of our love. I recognize that God often uses the "little things", but these we ought to have done and not leave the others undone.

I'm thankful for your blog. It keeps me up to speed and thoughtful. God bless in Christ.

Nate Mihelis said...

Both good thoughts...thanks guys!