“There are no U-Hauls behind hearses…” It’s a cute saying, used by bible belt pastors to press the point that you can’t take anything with you when you die. But what if we were to take it a step further and say, “There are no logos on headstones…” That when you die, your personal brand dies with you. Your trademark. Your legacy. A color scheme. What outlives you, then? (Here’s a hint—it’s not your memory…) Call it bleak, but we don’t remember the dead. Not like we hoped we would. When we die, the best we get is a headstone and a decal on the back window of someone’s Dodge Ram.
We’ve all lost people who meant a great deal to us. Some of us even manage to think about them daily. But what do we actively remember, apart from their character? How much of their life do we know about or truly understand? There are countless grave markers for individuals who lived full and complete lives (like us), who we’ll never think of again. Consider just the ones who changed the world. Those with volumes written about them. How often do you reflect on the legacy of Abraham Lincoln? We forget even the greatest figures in history, and they often had fantastic branding!
Our generation is suffering from the single greatest identity crisis in human history. We believe that if we don’t have a personal brand, we will disappear. And so we work as hard as we can to do things, make things, be somebody. Our purpose is so fused to our brand, our thing, our audience, that we don’t even know who we are without it. Which is precisely how we’re missing our one and only shot to leave something behind that’s worthwhile. Things like selflessness, integrity and spiritual discipline are abstract heirlooms. They can’t be self-taught. They can only be passed down, most often by those who knew the importance of being person-driven rather than purpose-driven.