Whether or not you’re a Christian or even believe in any form of theology, the historical facts surrounding the celebration of Easter are fascinating and surprisingly relevant to our everyday lives. Although he had no direct creative input on Easter or how we celebrate it today, a 1st century man by the name of Saul of Tarsus (later known as Saint Paul) laid the groundwork for all of modern Christianity and the festivals that followed. Saint Paul managed this feat by using some remarkably “advanced” strategies which today would be known as… I hope you’re sitting down … re-branding!
Saint Paul conducted the most remarkable re-branding ever
The bad thing about discussing the origins of Christian festivals such as Easter is that everyone has an opinion on the subject… but that’s also the good thing. All religions are living entities and are constantly being revisited and re-analyzed so we should all be able to accept this lively debate as an integral part of bringing theology of all stripes to the forefront of our cultures. That is why a historical discussion of Easter and how it came about is not a blasphemy or a topic only for anti-Christians but a thesis which can draw parallels to our time: Even to something as apparently so far detached as online marketing. After all, Saint Paul conducted the most remarkable branding (or we can even state re-branding) in the history of the ancient world. If Saint Paul had been around today in the social media branding age, the literal “marketing miracle” that he pulled off would be tantamount to rebranding Enron to beating Flour as the world’s acknowledged most ethical corporation.
Easter was originally the ancient Greek celebration of the goddess Eostre
What Saint Paul accomplished with Christianity essentially started with an in-depth comprehension of his audience. He knew that most of the people in the Mediterranean region were believers in various Pagan rites and their festivals. The Greek influence on the area was vast in Saint Paul’s age and they had long held a massive festival to herald the arrival of Spring at the vernal equinox on March 21. They believed that the Greek goddess of Spring returned to Earth after a cold winter and that a festival should be held to celebrate her arrival so that she would continue to come back year after year. The name of this Greek goddess was… Eostre! And that’s where Easter got its name.
Take something unfamiliar and reinterpret it in a way that resonates
When Saint Paul was rebranding the story of a man he never met who raised a bit of a ruckus in a remote corner of the Roman Empire into a religion which would dominate Western Civilization, he played extensively to what the people of his time were already familiar with. There have been entire books written by learned scholars on the specific Pagan festivals which were re-branded by Saint Paul and his subsequent church leaders into Holy Communion, Mass, and most of the other basic representations of modern Christianity, but the bottom line from an online marketing standpoint is that the fundamental aspects of Saint Paul’s genius as a re-brander was in taking something unfamiliar to his audience and interpreting it in a way that resonates with them, so that they are more likely to commit to following that “brand.”
You’re an online marketer so you’re well aware of the parallels which can clearly be drawn here to your everyday activities. You already know that it is critical that you are able to draw on a comprehension of every characteristic of your audience in order to provide them with the solution to their problems or challenges which you are marketing. What you can apply from an understanding of Saint Paul’s practices is that if you are able to present some brand factor that your audience is not necessarily aware of in a way that amply demonstrates to them that it actually is something that they want and need… but they just weren’t previously aware of how great a fit it is… then you’ve become a Saint Paul-level branding master!