Tag: brands

What Paula Deen Should Have Learned

booksBy now the story that Paula Deen casually admitted she had used racial epithets is old news. Further revelations that she also considered a “plantation-themed” wedding complete with white-jacketed African American men waiters contributed to the narrative of Deen as racially-insensitive at best, and racist at worst.

The admission by Deen that she has used the n-word sparked a social media debate about whether or not she is being treated fairly by the mainstream media. The New York Times reported over the weekend fans still waited in line at Deen’s restaurant in Savannah, while Deen’s defenders rallied online to her cause.

On the other side of the argument, Food Network revealed it will not renew her contract, which means her Emmy-winning cooking show will disappear taking with it her TV audience. Cable TV shopping channel QVC said it is monitoring the situation but it has no plans for Deen to appear to hawk her cookware anytime soon. USA Today quoted public relations pundits who said “Deen is done.”

Why do fans defend Deen while cable TV shows drop her faster than you can say buttered biscuits? Because Food Network and QVC understand what Deen and her fans don’t — in the US market, commercial brands cannot appear to be racist.

Of course, that wasn’t always the case. Brands like the Aunt Jemima brand and logo have been revised over the years, transforming Aunt Jemima from the bandana-wearing “mammy” of an idealized Southern plantation life, to a contemporary portrait of an attractive African American woman.

For their own economic survival, US corporations have made conscious efforts to change logos and narratives that were tied to a racist past. Paula Deen built a cooking empire on the idea of Southern charm and eccentricity embodied in over-the-top recipes and her Southern drawl. What Deen never learned was that her brand had to steer clear of the darkside of Southern history and life.

Deen’s casual “of course” admission revealed her obliviousness to the changing world around her. Gone with more than the wind is the fantasy of the South that Deen parlayed into a personal fortune. While US consumers may not mind the extra calories in her dishes, she can’t serve them with a side helping of racism.

Small Churches Need a Brand Revival

Tim Avery at Christianity Today’s Off The Agenda asked me to write an article on the way small churches are viewed by others.  The result is Small Churches Need a Brand Revival, and I hope you read it.  Here’s how it starts:

After the presidential election, I read a lot about the Republican “brand.” Nearly every living pundit was talking about how the Republicans needed to repair the damage the election had done to it. The word “brand,” of course, is marketing jargon for reputation and public image. I’ll leave the politics to others, but I think a group in definite need of brand revival is small churches.

I proceed from there to lay out my case for why small churches get no respect, and for a small church brand revival.  Let me know what you think.

::Visit SmallChurchPROF.com and NewChurchReport.com for the latest church news, ideas, and information in one place.

Church is a conversation

The buzzword in marketing now is “conversation.”  The Cluetrain Manifesto popularized that idea with its statement that “markets are conversations.”  The authors describe a dialogue between marketer and consumer, not just the old one-way deal — we make it, you buy it, that settles it.

Now consumers want to interact with their brands.  If you want proof of this among 20-somethings, read Ruby Pseudo Wants a Word, a blog by a young woman who interviews young people in the UK about fashion and brands.  Or read threebillion, a blog by a guy who is tracking the under-25 culture.

Which brings me to church.  If people are passionate about something as mundane as shoes, and become “fans” on Facebook of their favorite brand, wear them, talk them up, Twitter about them, text their friends about their shoes, and generally go crazy over a brand, shouldn’t churches learn something?

Like what, you ask? Like let’s create conversations where we might learn something.  Rather than trying to figure out how to get people to do what we want them to do — attend, give, care, serve, study, and so on — why don’t we talk to people about what they need from God?  What they expect from a community of faith?  What they hope their faith will enable them to be?

Which, of course, brings me to Jesus.   He actually did all of that.  Not that he needed to learn, but he used those conversations to engage the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, blind Bartimaeus, his own disciples, his friends, his family, and his followers.  How did we lose the simple idea of one person talking to another about things that matter?  How can we move the community of faith back into conversations with each other and the world?  That’s the challenge we face.  That’s the future of church.

The best youth ministry advice you’ll ever get, from a 17 yr old

I have about 50 blogs on my feedreader at a time.  Half of them are blogs reflecting popular culture.  Hey, I’m trying to keep up.  So, I’m reading  Ruby Pseudo  from the UK and she describes herself this way —

“Ruby Pseudo is a lucky girl that works with a network of young minds across the country to find out what they want, wish for and need. It’s also stuff they hate, have and haven’t.”

Bingo.   Ruby has the most incredible post from a 17-yr old guy about what he wants brands to be to him.  Not which brands he wants, but how he wants brands to behave in relationship to him. 

[New idea:  we have a relationship with our brands like, he says, we have a relationship with our friends.]  Here’s a clip —

  • I’m the kind of person that likes brands to be one step ahead of me and have the things I need before I need them.
  • I like to have the freedom to use them as and when I please and not be pestered when I’m not using it. (If they’re good they will be used again)
  • I like them at my fingertips but not in my way.
  • What I’m doing has to look good, be easy to accomplish but not simple. Involves skill but not time consuming.
  • My dress sense is like my uniform, I need to look good but not smart, has to match but not be the same.
  • I like to follow the trends but be different, look like everyone else but stand out. Be the same but unique.
  • Read the whole post here

Take this peephole into the world of young adults and teens, and translate it into church applications.  

Then for an insider (of the church, that is) perspective on the same issue, read They Like Jesus But Not the Church by Dan Kimball, and unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons of Barna, and you’ve got some real insight into how we should be dealing with older teens and young adults.