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Ways Your Business Can Leverage Branding, Marketing and Advertising During the Holiday Season

Alicia Williams
Updated on Dec 14, 2018

The holiday season is here! No matter what your background or beliefs are, colorful holiday decorations, sparkling lights and feel-good music are bound to keep you in a festive mood — and your customers in a giving mindset.

Of course, it’s no secret that consumers spend more than usual during the holidays. In recent years, spending has even increased due to rising consumer confidence. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), in November and December 2017, holiday sales increased 5.5 percent over the previous year to an astounding $691.9 billion. This year, the NRF expects spending to further rise by between 4.3 and 4.8 percent to a total of between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion.

So now, after having made the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s time to turn your attention to connecting effectively with your customers over the next few weeks. Here are a few ideas to help you up your game when it comes to holiday branding, advertising and marketing.

Holiday Branding

The holidays are a perfect time to update your branding with a seasonal twist. Exactly how you do it is up to you and your designers, but think about making some changes to your logo and packaging that stay true to your brand while still conveying a message of holiday cheer. Just think of how top brands transform their packaging around the holidays, adding more seasonal colors and imagery, as well as inspirational or humorous quotes.

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Who could forget Coca-Cola’s iconic polar bears? (And did you know that the bears on the cans actually featured hidden imagery, such as bottle caps for the eyes and silhouettes of the classic Coke bottle for the light accents on the noses?)

Or think of Burger King’s award-winning holiday packaging, which featured snowmen, reindeer and holiday lights on cups, as well as a cleverly designed Christmas tree made out of green and red grilling tools on its paper bags.

Of course, you can follow in the footsteps of a brand like Starbucks, which doesn’t just have a range of different holiday-inspired cups and other types of packaging — but also offers seasonal products. This year, its lineup includes Christmas Strawberry Cake Milk, Snowy Cheese Flavored Latte, Christmas Dessert Latte and Eggnog Latte, to name but a few.

Similarly, Target sells a variety of over-the-top cute, matching family pajamas specifically designed for the holidays. Some feature red and white stripes, others are decorated with fuzzy polar bears and wintery symbols, and yet another style has little reindeer on them. One of the funniest is a set called “Gnome for the Holiday,” which features a stylized gnome’s face on the long-sleeved T-shirt and pants.

Holiday Marketing

When you’ve put so much thought and effort into your branding efforts, why not take advantage of the festive season to do something a little different with your marketing, too?

To begin with, since the holidays are a time for giving, why not give back — and gain a little exposure in the process? For example, several years ago, automaker Infiniti initiated a new tradition by partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant a total of 35,000 new trees. And Businesswire reports that this year, Hanes, America’s No. 1 manufacturer of basic apparel, will donate 225,000 pairs of socks to the homeless in the ninth year of its Hanes National Sock Drive. Socks are among the most needed clothing items among the homeless — and yet they’re also some of the least donated. So why not choose a local charity or other cause you believe in and donate either items or a percentage of your holiday sales to it? Alternatively, you can organize a dinner for a local homeless shelter or similar organization.

It’s also advisable to create marketing materials that highlight your seasonal offers. Remember: Your competitors will be doing it — and you want to beat them to the punch. Depending on whether you do most of your business online, in-store or both, you can create email newsletters, push notifications, circulars — or all of the above. Just make sure to promote your offers early to raise awareness among your customers.

While you’re at it, the AppInstitute advises giving your social media followers a little extra thank you, since they’re your most engaged customers — and that means they’re also your best brand ambassadors. You can create printable coupons that are only accessible via social media, so your followers know they’re truly getting a special deal.

And since we’re on the subject of social media, it can be very effective to organize holiday contests on your Facebook or Instagram accounts. Your existing followers will love it; plus, it can greatly enhance engagement while at the same time, increasing your follower count. As an example, in 2016, Dunkin’ Donuts featured its #DDCoffeeJoySweepstakes Instagram photo and video sweepstakes, which challenged participants to show how Dunkin’ Donuts coffee played a role in their festivities. The results? Entertainment, ideas and engagement — all in one fell swoop!

Holiday Advertising

Did we save the best for last? Maybe — but who can blame us? Holiday ads can be so entertaining, whether they’re moving, funny or even slightly irreverent. As 99 Designs points out, Jim Beam’s “The holidays aren’t the same without J&B” ad was brilliantly funny, as was Dollar Shave Club’s campaign that stated its product was “The perfect gift for almost everyone.”

But when it comes to TV and online video ads, you can take things to a whole new level. Naturally, Coca-Cola’s exceptional advertisements have to be mentioned here. Whether they’re telling a story about Santa shaking a snow globe so everyone who’s still at work can miraculously go home or one about a young teen leaving a coke — instead of milk and cookies — for Santa, Coca-Cola always use precisely those ingredients — family, friends, snow and celebrations — to strike the right emotional and slightly nostalgic cord many of us associate with the holidays.

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One of our all-time favorite holiday ads features Buster the Boxer — an adorable dog who desperately wants to be able to jump up and down just like his owner, a little girl called Bridget, does on her bed. When Bridget’s dad sets up her gift — a large trampoline — in the family’s backyard, Buster is stuck inside all night watching all sorts of wildlife — foxes, a badger, a squirrel and a hedgehog — have fun jumping around on it. Fortunately, all ends well, as Buster is first out the door on Christmas morning… and can finally fulfill his dream of soaring to new heights!

While not every small business has the budget to finance a video ad, you can still pour your creativity into a regular advertisement that uses a holiday theme combined with emotions or humor to engage your audience.

Get Expert Help With Your Holiday Branding, Marketing and Advertising

Leveraging the holiday season to give your branding, marketing and advertising a little extra zest can help you improve your bottom line and at the same time, gain more customers. But if you don’t have the time or know-how to do so, don’t worry — you can always get expert help from the team of marketing professionals at Aliste Marketing. Contact us for more information.