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Brand Management

The Christmas Brand



It’s just another day, and yet there’s no day quite like it. It’s the most powerful retail brand in the world. Yet the key brand icon has weight issues, drives an unwarranted vehicle through some of the busiest air traffic lanes in the world, has never changed his clothes and could easily be charged with dropping and entering.

Yes, it’s that time of year again …

Christmas shouldn’t work. Logically, it should be as much a part of the old world as, well, the Roman Empire. Think about it. Christmas defies all the rules of today’s business model driven world. It has never been restructured, never had a major rebranding, only ever been available on one day of the year and never diversified. There’s never been a CEO interview. It doesn’t have its own website. And even the founder has been forgotten by many. As for the brand story! Stars, kings, shepherds, angels, a baby born with no place at the inn, and some weird minerals for gifts.

From a brand management point of view, Christmas is a mess. There’s no standard logotype, the typeface is old fashioned, the color palette hasn’t changed in ages, and the naming regime is inconsistent.

Still Christmas lives on. It may lack all the pizzazz and press release hype of modern business thinking, but every year, it prompts millions of people to undertake a shopping frenzy that frays tempers, drains bank accounts and raises expectations to astonishing levels. And every year, people from across the globe go to church for services they don’t know, crowd into parks to sing carols they can’t remember, and wish each other a joyous festive season, while feverishly anticipating what they are going to get in return.

It’s a truly global brand. Peoples all over the world buy into it – regardless of religion or lack of it, gender, culture, demographic or media buy. As the build up reaches fever pitch, everyone bemoans how stressful it is. And once it’s over, everyone says it was great and looks forward to next year.

All of which just goes to show how much brand is a people thing. Brand works when it cuts to the emotional quick. It defies logic when it is linked to a wonderful, inspiring, fascinating idea. Brand engages and holds the attention of the intangible side of each of us.

No methodology could create Christmas. Operationally too, it’s all over the place. There’s not even a consistent policy on when people can open their presents. And encouraging people to fill their lounges with a tree laden with lights and with bulky presents is a risk management nightmare. What would the Corporate Legal team say?

Still Christmas resists process, trends, buzzwords, branding models and international marketing analysis. It works because it glories in the strength and purity of a simple idea. Whether you believe in Christ or not, whether you live in the South of the world or the North, whether you’re in business or not, no matter your age, size, demographic or personality type, everybody wants love and everybody wants peace. Simple, one word thoughts, and yet they stir universal emotions.

At a time when, in the business world at least, imagination, creativity and inspiration seem to have been suppressed by technology, connectivity, streamlining and procedural consistency; at a time when so many people say they can’t see anything tangible in brand; at a time when everyone says they need proof that a big idea is a huge asset, I have just these words.

Happy Christmas to each of you.

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