Top 5 Branding Secrets of Christianity

I recently contributed a few posts to the BNET business blog. In the spirit of meta-blogging, I chose as my topics “The 5 Worst 5-Worst Lists” and “The 5 Best 5-Best Lists” — since, as even the most casual glance at BNET’s content reveals, 80% of the most popular blog posts take the form of a ranked list. Today’s top posts: “12 Cool Gadgets That Could Have Changed the World” (e.g., PicturePhone) and “Top 10 Lies That Customers Tell” (e.g., “I will read your brochure”).

In America, job #1 is to follow in the dinky, twig-like footsteps of the great Rachel Zoe: “I am frus-tra-ted, Brad! I am working on my brand!

Jesus was a Jew of the first third of the first century; he lived and died a Jew. All his followers were Jews. At his death, there were at most a few hundred devotees of this executed criminal. Yet today, there are over 2 billion Christians in the world and only about 40 million Jews. That’s branding!

So as our gift to you, to incorporate into your own Personal Brand, we offer “The Top 5 Branding Secrets of Christianity”:

  1. Be Open Source — Judaism is the BlackBerry of world religions: it has a proprietary operating system. It was (and is) a collective, rather than individual, religion founded on a particular ethnicity with a significant (for males, anyway) initiation rite. After the Jerusalem Council around 49 AD, Paul convinced his fellow Jewish Christians to admit gentiles freely, with no restrictions or requirements beyond a simple sprinkling with water.
  2. Create a Cult of Your Founder — Apple is a good example, of course: a highly charismatic founding figure, whose origins are shrouded in mystery, somewhat asexual, smart but not an intellectual, casually dressed, a great talker. Think also of Microsoft, KFC, and Wal-mart.
  3. Flatter Your Customers — Successful brands exude optimism; nobody likes a gloomy product. The Hebrew Bible is a monumental work, of course, but it can be rather dour (“The living know at least that they will die; the dead know nothing” – Ecclesiastes 8-9). On the other hand, Christ forgave even a guilty criminal at the end of John, and Paul admits all to salvation.
  4. Build a False Sense of Urgency — The original cult around Jesus was apocalyptic. They literally believed the world would end soon: “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Mark 13:30). Certainly, John the Baptist (“The time has been fulfilled”) and Paul himself (1 Thessalonians) thought the end was near. Many Christians to this day believe the world is ending soon. The effect is like the clock on QVC — “Act Now! And by the way, Act Now!”
  5. Keep Pushing Out “New News”Hershey’s keeps its delicious brands top of mind with a bewildering rat-a-tat of line extensions: Reese’s Big Cup, Hershey’s Drops, Almond Joy Pieces and the super-yummy new Reese’s Minis (test markets only) — a continuous stream of innovation that keeps fans wanting more. Likewise, since the Reformation, Christianity has unleashed a bewildering variety of splinter cells, denominations, sects, cults and more — all calling themselves Christians. Don’t like Methodism? Try another flavor.
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