Authenticity and Your Brand Promise


“We are good at copying but not good at being authentic.” Those were difficult words for a pastor to say, but both he and I knew they were true. As we talked, he told me he had visited enough congregations to know how churches freely “borrowed” others’ identity.  I ran into that problem early on in my marketing career as I was asked to create something that looked exactly like someone else’s work . Even today, my company gets calls from churches that want to use one of our client’s  logo, brand identity and promises as their own. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Brand Promise Authenticity Maurilio blog

I believe that’s a problem way beyond churches and businesses.  We often want to copy the style of something or someone without possession any of the substance.  I know church leaders go to great lengths to look and act like  prominent Christian leaders without spending the time and discipline it takes to develop the skills that propel these successful men and women forward.

It takes more than plastic frame glasses, a shirt from the Buckle, and an iPad to make you a good communicator, much less a good leader.  Wearing a vest with a t-shirt and jeans doesn’t make you any more relevant and authentic than wearing your underwear over spandex tights makes you a superhero.  Substance, not style, ultimately wins.

Have you ever been taken in by the style but let down by the lack of substance?   I’m sure you have.  These are the times that an institution or a person promised something they never fully delivered. Sadly, many of us have walked away from churches, businesses, friendships and marriages because we fell in love with the promise of the packaging but couldn’t live with the performance of the product. It’s amazing when we get both, however.

When was the last time you walked away from a relationship or an institution because the product did not match the promise? What could have changed that?

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  • I hate that for you. There some great guys out there. Keep looking.

  • Unfortunately I have seen that same scenario happen several different times living in Nashville.

  • I've been around a few churches that brand themselves as "authentic" and "real" but in reality are nothing more than a country club where the pastor has his little circle of buddies who run all the ministries and do whatever they want to do. I wasn't as upset with the fact I wasted time there (although I did learn a lot of great ways on how not to treat people) but was more upset for the people seeking Christ who would come in and think what they were doing is really what being a follower of Christ is all about.

  • Great post and ultimate question Maurilio, I would say the last time I walked away from a relationship was because I was not honest enough to own up to my own mistakes. I saw a mirror in my partner and yet did not have the courgae to confide in her my own weakness. Good Ministers have the courage to admit their own temptations. Jesus is the master teacher here "Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted he is able to help those who are tempted." (Heb 2:17-18) See also Heb 4:15 for a good follow up!

    It would be worthwile reminding any Minister or individual of the temptations of Jesus and how he overcame them to lead a life with a pure heart and original guidance.

    • Thank you for the good word, James. That's a very important lesson and it takes a lot of courage to own up to it.

  • Oh, I've been called way worse.

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  • i think this kind of fashion can show our future life styles. amazing.

  • I was once part of a church that was so focused on attracting new people that it placed greater value on image than on substance. The funny/sad part was that the lack of authenticity was so obvious that it drove people away.

    I’m blessed to be part of a church now that is very aware of its strengths, weaknesses, and overall identity. It’s wonderful! When you’re real, you don’t waste all your energy trying to be something you’re not.

    • Glad you were able to find a good church. Authenticity is more than a buzz word. Some people don’t get that.

  • I was a member of a church in a previous city that changed to match the format and style of a prominent church, as described in a popular book by its pastor. I view this book as a report of what God did through them, not an instruction manual for how to succeed. The church of the “report” is a relatively-speaking young church in a wealthy West Coast city. My church was an almost 200 year old church in a declining neighborhood in a very traditional town in the South. It didn’t go well.

    Thank you for ministering to churches to prevent these occurrences.

    And, by the way, thank you (not) from the hundreds of church members (mostly in the South) who will now forever have an image in the head of their pastor in spandex tights with his underwear on the outside.  : )

  • I am convinced that nearly any brand promise, in your parlance, can be successful in reaching people–so long as it is authentically you. It is a great temptation for pastors (myself included) to be who we think people want us to be. In fact, they really want us to be ourselves. Good post, Maurilio. 

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