IVP - Strangely Dim - This Friday Brought to You By . . .

March 10, 2006

This Friday Brought to You By . . .

Fridays at InterVarsity Press used to be casual. And in a sense, I suppose, they still are. But ever since we announced our new imprint strategy, Friday has taken on a new look. To celebrate our new identity as a publisher of multiple imprints, InterVarsity Press (never hereafter to be referred to as IVP) has been handing out shirts like there's no tomorrow.

Shirts are a key element of any branding strategy, from the look of things. My brother works for a major corporation, and it seems that every time a senior executive sneezes, tens of thousands of branded t-shirts come shooting out his or her nose. God bless them--after all, who doesn't like a t-shirt? My brother didn't have to go clothes shopping for the first year of his employment there. The employees get free duds, the corporation gets free advertising: everybody's happy.

So it's no surprise that InterVarsity Press would cough up a lot of shirts during the branding year, even though in terms of size, we're small and my brother's company is triple-XL. Really, we're like grasshoppers to them. But now, with all our swanky new shirts, at least we look nice!

On any given Friday, these days, you'll see employees of IVP-I-mean-InterVarsity Press wearing branded t-shirts, long sleeve tees, hoodies, button-downs or oxfords. Beyond clothing, you'll see my coworkers toting branded totebags, slurping coffee out of branded coffee mugs, attaching keys to branded keychains, writing letters on branded paper using branded pens. If I were to attempt to count the number of IVP-I-mean-InterVarsity Press logos decorating my office alone, my heart, soul, mind and strength would all give out on me before I finished.

There are two forces at work here, I suppose. One is the assertion of InterVarsity Press. "We are here!" we proclaim. "Notice us! Embrace our vision! Buy our stuff!" That's a defensible effort for an organization to make: we exist for a particular set of reasons, and those reasons are better fulfilled when we are in view of our audience.

The other force, I think, is the assertion of the employees (and authors and perhaps even our audience): "We are with you! You are with us!" I, for one, draw strength from my associations: I am bolder, for example, in a room full of Alpha males when I can say, "I'm with X" and reasonably expect them to know what "X" is. Similarly, I am more likely to invite someone to my church than tell them about Jesus all by my lonesome.

In a sense, then, it's a shame that my faith tradition doesn't include uniforms. Everybody knows a nun is a nun by looking at her habit, but nobody knows I'm a Christian by looking at my boot-cut jeans and IVP-I-mean-InterVarsity Press hooded sweatshirt.

Nevertheless, we are promised association: "I am with you always." And we are promised identification: "Everyone will recognize that you are my disciples . . . when they see the love you have for each other."

Try to fit that on a t-shirt.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at March 10, 2006 1:11 PM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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