Deck Your Brand’s Halls — Online and Off

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. To the perplexity of many, retail brands across the country have been decking their halls since just before Halloween. Holiday decor has become so ubiquitous that Nordstrom’s actually makes headlines by declaring very publicly that they do not deck their halls until Black Friday. (A classic example of how you can often get some earned media by taking a contrarian stance.)

While we preach a synced online and off-line approach, often our online brand touchpoints remain starkly unfestive as the holiday season rolls in. You may be skeptical and are reading this asking yourself, “We have so much more to be worried about at this time of year. Isn’t adding a sprig of holly to our website a little silly?” Acknowledging the holiday season — even with a very light graphical flourish — is important for a few reasons.

First, it’s important to show that your brand exists in the same time and space as your audience. Though enjoyable, the holiday season can be a stressful time for many (shopping for that hard-to-buy-for person, entertaining family, ensuring that everyone’s season is bright, and the like). Showing that you understand where they are coming from can go a long way. As you can already see, this seasonal approach for your brand messaging can also help you back into special holiday promotions as well.

Additionally, as Patrick Hanlon notes in his book Primal Branding, it is important for strong brands to have rituals — regular, repeatable parts of your brand lore that creates traction with your audience. The holiday season provides an easy opportunity to embed these rituals into your brand’s DNA. One of my favorite examples of a brand ritual are the red Starbucks cups which signal the arrival of the holiday season.

Finally, online brands are taught to strive for relevant and fresh website content. For many small businesses this charge can be a challenge. Updating your site with some seasonal flair gives you an easy way to be fresh a couple months of the year.

So what can you do to deck your brand’s online halls?

  • Give your logo some holiday flair. Take a cue from Amazon and Zappos and add a few snowflakes around your logo. Just a little something to let people see visually — one of the strongest senses — that you know the season is upon us.
  • Solve holiday problems. Again, the holidays can be a crazy time of year for many. Whether it’s offering gift ideas, simple shopping services, or making a holiday meal even easier, find a way to position your brand as a solution to one the the many seasonal emergencies that arise.
  • Get social. Carry over your holiday look, feel, and messaging to Facebook and Twitter. Even a little thing like Button-Click Admin’s Santa hat avatar.
  • Consider giving back. Is there something you can donate to help make other people’s season bright? Try providing your customers with the option of making a charitable gift as part of their regular transaction with you. It’s good for others but it also buys you some positive top of mind.
  • P.S. Your industry doesn’t matter. Hey Scrooge, we don’t care that you’re not Macy’s or Starbucks. Even if you are a boring professional services firm — like a law firm or an advertising agency — that’s no excuse to not get in on some holiday fun.

All of this can look pretty trivial, especially to the left brainers at your business who are bogged down closing the year out. But it can also be the most wonderful time of year. Decking your halls online and off can help you fully realize the potential impact of the season and how it can benefit your brand by providing fresh content, showing you care, and creating enduring rituals for years to come.

What do you do to help make your customers’ holiday season bright? You’d make my season by leaving a comment in my stocking — I mean … in the comments section below on how your brand observes the holidays.

Photo via Flickr user Esparta