Great dinner tonight with some friends that spurred amazing conversation, ideas, and questions. Questions are the essence really. I think sometimes we are afraid of answers more than we are questions. We are afraid to ask the hard ones, in fear of what we will discover. If you are a church, a band, a worship leader, a marketer, business owner, etc I have a question. Are you a label or a brand?

Three answers here: 1. I don’t know, which spurs bigger questions. 2. Brand or Label 3. Incorrectly answering as a brand or label.

A brand is something the consumer trusts. A brand builds loyalty through similarity and quality. If you enjoy product A from a brand you will likely enjoy products b, c, and d because they are similar to product A, just in different forms. Brands form LOVE MARKS. Love marks tend to transcend generations, economy, change, leadership, etc. A label is a generic mark stuck on a product. If I like a product with a label I may or may not like other products under the same label, and usually because they differ so greatly from the original that I struggle to find similarity with these products, despite the same label or tag being applied to them.

Perfect example. I attend your Sunday service or you concert. I LOVE it. Because of that I choose to explore your small groups, myspace page, youth functions, fan club, women ministry, fan forum etc. When I attend, if I do not feel the same DNA in these products as I did during my first experience I probably can answer the question that you are a label not a brand. Labeling is easy. It is based on the leadership of one person (or personality) in one aspect of the grand scheme. Branding is difficult. It is built on culture, it is built on strategy, it is intentional. A lot of times we think we are creating a brand when reality is, we are just a combination of labels. Labels die quick deaths. When the personality or the over arching product slips, the label is exposed. When the same things happen to a brand, the system is built to replace itself and continue to grow.

If you are looking to have longevity and influence deeper than 1 generation, sit down and ask yourself some hard questions about your status as a brand or a label. There is nothing wrong with being a label. Labels have great success, but probably not amazing destiny.

What is your personal situation? Are you building a personal brand or a personal label?