As a boy in the 1980s, I remember my older brothers begging my parents to buy them Jordache jeans. My parents replied that Jordache didn’t fit the family budget, and they continued to purchase Toughskins jeans for us despite my brothers’ protests. Besides being more affordable, the Toughskins brand promised durability, which is important when you’re buying jeans for three boys.
The Jordache brand doesn’t seem to have quite the same cachet now as it once did. I recently bought a bottle of Jordache cologne at the 99 Cent Only Store. The same can be said of one of my favorite ’80s brands, Ocean Pacific, which is now available exclusively at Wal-Mart.
Abercrombie & Fitch was known as the “greatest sporting goods store in the world” during much of the last century. Beginning in the 1990s, Abercrombie & Fitch became a popular mall store known for selling clothes to teens and young adults through controversial advertisements featuring models who weren’t wearing much, if any, clothing. The company has experienced a backlash, however, and Fortune magazine called it “the most hated retailer in the U.S.” earlier this year (fmchr.ch/afbrand).
Like Abercrombie & Fitch, many colleges and universities reflect different missions than their founders envisioned. Take Harvard University, whose founders vowed to help students “be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ” (fmchr.ch/qharvard). A Yale University student was once required to “consider the main end of his study to wit to know God in Jesus Christ” (fmchr.ch/fmcyale). The Harvard and Yale brands remain prestigious, but they’ve lost their original reasons for existing.
Thankfully, the same cannot be said of the colleges and universities featured in Light + Life’s annual higher education guide — a special advertising section in this issue. These colleges and universities are affiliated with the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions and/or the John Wesley Seminary Foundation, and they continue to reflect the commitment to Christian education that denominational founder B.T. Roberts demonstrated when he started Chili Seminary (now Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary). I’ll be returning this month to one of the association’s colleges for my 20th reunion, and my life is better each day because of the knowledge gained, the relationships formed and the faith deepened through my four years there.
I’m also better off because of my interactions with other institutions, congregations and people connected to the Free Methodist brand. They may not all have the words “Free Methodist” in their names, but their values have been branded by the church’s mission “to love God, love people and make disciples.”
In fact, this magazine’s brand has changed a few times over the years. It began as The Free Methodist, and it’s been billed as Light & Life Magazine, LLM and Light + Life since then. We’ve tweaked the branding, but we haven’t lost the goal of B.T. Roberts, who also took a turn as this publication’s editor, “to make our magazine a favorite and welcome visitor.”