Joel Osteen. the Master of Branding

which one are you?
I was watching that Joel Osteen fellow on TV the other evening.  It was late. I had had a bad day and the sleep sandman was no where to be found. Let me state at the onset that I find evangelists like him a bit off-putting. Long time ago, I conducted a church choir in the summers - a big "mega-church" in Tulsa and Oral Roberts preached in July and August so I got to know him.  I'll tell you about that some other time but suffice it to say that the experience is at the root of my distrust.

We've all had days like I had; completely at 6's and 9's. I was at a lunch with some persons who thought that I might be able to help with a web project and we just didn't jive.  I was focused and all that but everything that came out of my brain was off target and the more I tried the worse it got. Back to Mr. Osteen.

I caught him at the wrap up of his sermon and it was about being yourself; a message I found timely that's for sure. But something else struck me about what he was saying and how he was saying it. There was a certain oratorical flourish to his speech pattern but he wasn't in love with the sound of his voice type of thing. It was that each subsection of his message was built on a sense of optimism; that everything will be OK and if you just do your best...well you get it.
Joel Osteen - a master brander

His TV church looks like the Superbowl and, unlike the German Lutheran churches of my childhood, everyone is smiling and free of overwhelming guilt. What a neat place.  It was decidedly not homogeneous in makeup but "at one" with a feeling of good will and good things.  The audience was a mirror of Osteen.

I've conducted or participated in perhaps 100 corporate branding sessions in my life where we go through the Jung Archetypes and generally try and build a consensus as to who and what we are about as a company or product.  In those sessions a lot of angst is produced, particularly at the point where we turn the tables.  That is, the first part is discovering who we are and defining it and the second part is asking the very good question that is "is this how others see us".

Watching Osteen and comparing it to my own day two things were clear.  This guy has a message, if you like it or not, approve or not, partake or not, that is clear and unrelenting.  You can spot him a mile away, upside down in the middle of the night and know it is him. He has crafted his "brand" to appeal to a spectrum of folks who have bought in so to speak and totally identify with what he is.  They mirror him.

My lunch was a failure because folks came to me expecting one thing and got another.  In fact, my whole day was a race to the bottom of not being myself and things not working as a result.  People were not "reflecting well" by me.

Lesson learned.