TB Joshua: Brand Building Lessons

A completely evil man who sold holiness to the world so successfully

T.B Joshua’s business model was based on fleecing rich foreigners. He brought a superb data operation to the game.


The late T.B. Joshua built a church that attracted presidents, business elites, miracle seekers, and Christians seeking a transformational religious experience from all over the world – South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, South Korea, etc.

What is truly remarkable about his church, the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), is not that it sold fake miracles or that it became a bit or too much about making money. This is common enough. The SCOAN, as revealed in the BBC Africa Eye investigative documentary, under the late T.B. Joshua had nothing to do with Jesus, the Bible, or God from the start. It was an extremely well-organised fraud.

If T.B. Joshua had any spiritual power, it was derived from elaborate occult practices and dark magical arts and its only use was to hypnotise the young women he kept in captivity as sex slaves and prise open the wallets of the rich congregants he exploited.

How was a psychopath, serial rapist, and fraudster able to build a massive church and attract the rich and powerful from all over the world? We think his journey, sad as it was, offers some lessons in brand building:

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Brand Differentiation: The late T.B. Joshua was very clear from the onset, even when his church was a threadbare operation and Joshua looked rather like an impoverished village carpenter, that he wanted to build an organisation and brand with an international reach.

In the beginning, T.B Joshua had everything on videotape (BBC photo)

The brand name signalled clearly the global ambition. The operation too was geared toward this ambition; according to Joshua’s principal aide, Agomoh Paul, more than 90% of SCOAN’s income in the early days was spent on making and sending videotapes of fake healing sessions abroad.

Personal Brand Values: The Synagogue Church of All Nations offered deliverance and healing from satanic possessions and illnesses. T.B Joshua’s personal brand was built on humility and asceticism. In the early days of the church (as can be seen in the BBC documentary), he cleaned toilets and dusted chairs in his church.

He continued to project humility when he became a billionaire Man of God, always donning a simple shirt and mingling with beggars and the crippled for the cameras. He surrounded himself with five young men ostensibly to keep himself from “temptations”; even his wife did not share the penthouse suite where he slept (and arranged to rape women almost every night).

Data is King: T.B Joshua’s business model was based on fleecing rich foreigners. He brought a superb data operation to the game. Potential foreign visitors had to complete a form through which SCOAN gained valuable data about their status and income.

T.B Joshua’s HQ had a secret abortion facility for the women he sexually abused (photo from BBC documentary)

According to one of Joshua’s former “disciples”, they invited mainly rich applicants and a sprinkling of poor miracle seekers. Matters were not left there. Female disciples were groomed to sleep with rich visiting foreigners and obtain even more information from them (the disciples also encouraged the visitors to offer hefty donations when they at last were ushered into Joshua’s presence so that the spirit would not reveal to him that they had had illicit sex in his church). Joshua had a wealth of information on his rich visitors, so the visions that he revealed to them were tailor-made.

Technology: Joshua made sure he perfectly matched the data on each rich visitor to the appropriate person. His office was filled with television screens so he could match descriptions of clothing with the names and data in his possession as each of his wealthy victims comes into his office. His Emmanuel TV (which has been pulled down from DSTV as a result of the BBC documentary) also served as a magnet for young female disciples from abroad as well as for wealthy visitors.

Humble man of God with bags of food for beggars and the disabled (photo from BBC documentary)

CSR: The late T.B. Joshua also burnished his brand with elaborate investment in corporate social responsibility. He supervised the donation of food to the poor and disabled and gave out scholarships.

The T.B Joshua saga speaks to the phenomenon of fraud in business, specifically entrepreneurs who are able to raise tons in investor funds for fundamentally fraudulent enterprises.  The late T.B. Joshua is akin to Dozy Mmobuosi whose Tingo, a company based on fictitious activities and financial statements, was listed on the stock exchange in America and valued at over $400 million. There must be something fake  prophets, like fraudulent business people, understand about the human mind and the psychology of brand building.

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