The Christmas season is an important time for any brand. In the UK, Christmas spending online is expected to reach more than £13 billion – an estimated 18 percent increase over last year’s online spend. What’s more, online spending and marketing typically increases retail and in-store spending, as more of your customers reach and connect with your brand through channels like mobile and social media.
At this time of the year, having a seasonal marketing strategy can deliver tremendous ROI for your brand. Customers love to see brands getting into the Christmas spirit. But just as with any branding strategy, it’s important to make sure your Christmas branding is authentic, meaningful, and engaging and most importantly – congruent with what your brand stands for.
Here are our top 10 tips on what to do – and what not to do – in order to bring the seasonal spirit to your brand and elicit a positive and profitable customer response.
1. Don’t Just Slap on Some Tinsel and Call it Christmas
Great Christmas branding collateral incorporates the season in a meaningful way, and delivers a message that makes customers look forward to celebrating Christmas, it must touch them with appropriate emotional connectivity – preferably with the help of your products or services. But dropping Christmas-related items into your regular marketing without any particular reason or strong branding strategy simply makes things uninspiring and largely forgettable.
2. Do Have a Defined Reason for Incorporating Christmas with Your Brand
There are so many aspects to the Christmas season that failing to draw a connection to your brand with seasonal marketing should be inexcusable. Whether your brand platform emphasizes fun, heartwarming, luxurious, affordable, or timeless, there are endless meaningful connections you can make.
For online custom greeting card company Cardstore.com, one campaign highlighted their brand’s convenience. This video spot contrasted an overly enthusiastic Mum trying to package her actual family inside a Christmas card, with the convenience of creating your own custom cards online.
Another company that gets Christmas right is John Lewis. The upscale UK department store, which also owns Waitrose, has created powerful and heartwarming Christmas commercials that have really captured the spirit of the season and kept customers coming back to shop. In fact, this year’s adorable advert from John Lewis contributed to the groups’s record-breaking sales during Black Friday week.
3. Deck out Your Packaging (or Brand Collateral)
At this time of year, an enchanting presentation is important to your customers. Shoppers want their loved ones to know that they’ve put some thought and effort into their Christmas preparations, and they’re drawn to festive packaging and cheerful or whimsical designs.
You can make your brand aspirational, fun, and desirable with limited edition Christmas packaging – or if you didn’t consider it this year, now is the time to include it in your brand planning for next year! You can also brand your online collateral such as your website and social media channels with Christmas themes.
Again, the key here is to make it meaningful and connected to your brand, without going over the top and obscuring your core brand messaging. Hershey’s is a well-known example of this, as they change their signature silver wrapper for Hershey’s Kisses to a mixture of red and green for the Christmas season.
For websites and social media, a simple banner change to Christmas greetings that aligns with your brand colours and themes can bring cheer to your customers and seasonal spirit to your brand.
4. Redefine Your Christmas Discounts
Christmas shoppers love a good bargain. But while deep discounts, clearances and blowout sales can move products, many are reluctant to take advantage of such heavily advertised specials. It can cheapen the experience of gift-giving, and the recipient may realise that they’ve just seen the item on sale.
A good alternative way to offer your customers added value, without devaluing your brand, is to pair products with a free gift, which customers can either keep for themselves or give to someone else. Some popular examples here include branded items like tote bags or mugs, trial sizes of products, or even small gift vouchers.
5. Make it a Mobile Christmas
Recent research from Nielsen found that 80 percent of UK Twitter users access Twitter on their mobiles, and for 70 percent, mobile is the primary means of access. More importantly, 94 percent of UK Twitter users engage with mobile commerce on their smartphones, and one-third of all online sales are now made via mobile devices.
There is a strong case for your brand to interact with your customers via mobile. In the midst of the Christmas shopping season, mobile branding and marketing allows you to connect quickly with customers and keep your brand top-of-mind while they’re shopping, either in-store or online.
The Royal Albert Hall took this strategy onboard for Christmas by creating an “Advent Calendar” for their Twitter feed. The iconic venue counted down the month of December by tweeting a series of historic facts that tied into the day – for example, on December 19 the tweet read: “Beach volleyball has been played at the Hall for a grand total of nineteen minutes” and included an image of beach volleyball at the Hall.
6. Make it Easier for Last-Minute Shoppers to Choose your Brand
Regardless of intentions, most of your customers will end up last-minute shopping for Christmas. You can create an inviting sense of accommodation for your brand by keeping customers informed of last-minute opportunities. Use your website and social media channels to highlight any extended opening hours for your retail location, shipping deadlines for orders delivered by Christmas, and special last-minute offers or deals such as free shipping upgrades.
7. Help Customers Find the Perfect Gift with Your Brand
Many a Christmas shopper struggles to find the right gift for the right person. One inexpensive and effective Christmas branding strategy is to put together a seasonal gift-giving guide, showing which of your products make the best gifts for certain people. For example, UK clothing retailer ASOS has created a Christmas splash page that groups gifts into fun categories like “Me Me Me,” “BFF,” “Cheap ‘N Cheerful,” and “Beauty Booty.” The page includes a few short YouTube videos that offer further gift-giving tips and tricks for shoppers.
8. Consider Christmas Vouchers to Extend Brand Loyalty
It can be difficult to choose the perfect gift – that’s why more shoppers are turning to gift vouchers that let recipients buy whatever they want. Offering branded gift vouchers or gift cards is a great way to increase visibility, strengthen your brand platform, and increase profits – an estimated 61 percent of gift card holders spend more than the amount of the card when they make a purchase.
Gift vouchers give your customers an additional way to interact with your brand, and also introduce your products or services to new customers who receive your gift vouchers as Christmas presents.
9. Reach out to Your Current Customers
The Christmas season is an opportunity to increase brand loyalty by reaching out authentically to your current customer base. It’s the perfect time to do something unexpected and pleasantly surprising for your customers – reach out with a small gift or freebie, hold a VIP night, or organize a special Christmas event for your most loyal brand supporters. Demonstrating appreciation for your customers’ patronage helps to ensure that they’ll remain loyal to your brand, and they’ll remember the gesture fondly.
Canadian airline WestJet deployed this strategy in a big way in 2013, treating 250 of its customers to a Christmas miracle. As passengers boarded their Christmas flights, they were invited into a booth to “tell Santa” what they wanted for Christmas. The passengers were recorded and viewed by airline employees at the destination airport, who raced out to buy all the gifts the passengers had wished for – and had them waiting when they arrived at their destination.
WestJet uploaded a video of the campaign to YouTube, and it promptly went viral. Currently, the video has more than 37 million views.
10. Get Festive on Facebook
In order to engage with your brand authentically, your customers need to know that there are real people behind the brand. One of the best ways to accomplish this during the Christmas season is to show your Christmas spirit on social media channels like Facebook. Post photos and video of your staff, your office or storefront, your corporate Christmas party, your involvement in the community and giving back together with other seasonal events that your customers might like a glimpse into.
And whilst using social media, don’t forget to be social! Engage your audience with interesting conversations that are relevant to your brand, or share your Christmas sentiments with favourite quotes, inspirational photos, or interactive question and fill-in-the-blank posts such as “All I want for Christmas is [blank]; how about you?”
Christmas branding doesn’t have to be complex or expensive to be successful. No matter the size of your brand, you can engage in authentic, meaningful seasonal strategies and initiatives that preserve your brand values, story, and loyalty without devaluing the core of your brand amongst the Christmas mayhem.
So, what do you think – how will you integrate Christmas into your brand strategy?
• How can you dress up your brand collateral for the Christmas season in a meaningful, relevant way?
• What authentic connections can you draw between your brand and popular Christmas symbols, values, or traditions?
• How are you maintaining the authenticity of your brand amidst the rush of the Christmas season?
• Are you reaching out to your current customers with Christmas rewards to preserve brand loyalty?
• Can Christmas shoppers clearly find the right products or services for the people on their gift lists, and identify last-minute shopping opportunities from your brand?
• Are you engaging your audience on multiple channels during Christmas, including mobile and social?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!