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Archive for December, 2015

Wyndridge in Action: A Branding Success Story

In the branding and marketing world, very few things come close to the flattery and satisfaction found when the intentions driving a brand makeover manifest in customer interaction. Upon visiting Wyndridge Farm a handful of weeks ago, we had the privilege of seeing some of our hard work pay off in this exact way.

For the sake of setting the scene, it’s important to know that when we were developing the Wyndridge brand, we decided to use a unified visual theme amongst the products as opposed to multiple designs, i.e. a different visual direction for the ciders, the beers, the sodas, etc. This decision was made with the intention of focusing all of the products around Wyndridge’s own North Star: the farm itself. By doing so, customers tracing the deliciously brewed beverages back to their place of origin will find the Wyndridge restaurant, gift shop, and venue – three other key aspects to the business’ overall success.

With this in mind, you can imagine our excitement when, enjoying a lunch meeting at Wyndridge, we were introduced to two women – Tina and Jill – who had come upon the restaurant simply by following the brand! They explained that after sampling some of the brewery products elsewhere, they had saved one of the bottle caps, researched the brand, discovered the restaurant, took a tour of the grounds, and even decided to have an upcoming wedding at the events venue. This was quite literal manifestation of our brand direction in motion – cohesive logo, messaging, and content design bringing these two particular customers back to the farm, just as intended.

In the end, this branding success story was a very proud moment for holberg design, as it provided an exciting look into how our work directly affects customers. Shout out to Tina and Jill for making our day!


Marketing and Design Research in a Consumer-centric World

International Journal of Design is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal devoted to publishing research papers in all fields of design, including industrial design, visual communication design, interface design, animation and game design, architectural design, urban design, and other design related fields. It aims to provide an international forum for the exchange of ideas from researchers across different cultures and encourages research on the impact of cultural factors on design theory and practice. It also seeks to promote the transfer of knowledge between professionals in academia and industry by emphasizing research in which results are of interest or applicable to design practices.

Since 2007, the IJD has been published 3 times per year in both print and online editions by faculty and students of the Graduate Institute of Design, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei, Taiwan. The Editorial Staff is international in geography and entirely academic in scope. It is a non-advertising based publication model.

The International Journal of Design invites papers from any contributors on a wide range of topics, including the following:

  • Social-Cultural Aspects of Design
  • Globalization and Localization Approaches to Design
  • Design Strategy and Management
  • Ergonomics and Perceptions in Design
  • Design Theories and Methodologies
  • Computer Applications in Design

All submissions undergo an anonymous double-blind peer review process before being accepted for submission. The process starts with the Editor-in-Chief who, after acceptance, passes the submission to an Assistant Editor. The Assistant Editor sends the submission to a diverse team of referees who determine the final judgment as to the acceptability for inclusion in the journal.

The aim of this research was to provide knowledge on the consumer perception of product appearances by identifying attributes that consumers use to distinguish product appearances. “The appearance of a product communicates meaning by helping consumers to assess the product on functional, aesthetic, symbolic or ergonomic motives.” These motives play a role in the consumers overall product appraisal. Companies that are able to communicate a certain meaning through the appearance of a product design can create a competitive advantage in the marketplace and increase the product’s chance of success.

The appearance attributes of designed products often reflect what designers themselves perceive in a product design. To deflect that bias, in this classic example of focus group qualitative research, the appearance descriptions were generated by consumers themselves in an open categorization task. The three prevalent descriptions were defined as the attributes Modernity, Simplicity and Playfulness. These three attributes provide a general view on how consumers perceive durable product appearances and differentiate between different appearances. These attributes were confirmed in a separate, repeated categorization task performed by a second group of consumers. The research showed that these attributes proved stable across different groups of consumers indicating that they are universally accepted. Additionally, the attributes were validated across different product categories and the outcomes indicate that they are not product category specific.

This research provides insight into consumer perceptions of product appearances, and the defined attributes can provide valuable guidelines to designers wanting to attune their designed product appearances to consumer preferences.

Advertising and the Debate of Product Placement

E.T. loved Reese’s Pieces. So do I. Simon Cowell drank Coke. Ditto again. These are obvious examples of product placement. And potentially they are examples of their possible impact. But more on that later…

Before I launch too far into this segment I’d like to express my viewpoints on the use of the term “product placement.” Vivian writes that “in the 1980s, advertisers began wiggling brand-name products into movie scripts,” and the practice of “product placement” took root. I think the key discerning factor here is the term “brand-name products”. I think there is a distinction here. I feel that, perhaps in subtle or subliminal ways, “product placement” has been in use since the early days of movies and television, but not in reference to “branded” products. I would like to make the argument that, in the same way that a Coke cup on the Idol judges desk might increase the sale of Coke, could seeing Humphrey Bogart light up a cigarette possibly increase the potential for the viewer to take up smoking (no matter what brand), and therefore help the tobacco industry as a whole?

Did the tobacco industry push to have their products used in early movies? Probably not, but I’m sure they didn’t complain. It was an accepted form of self-enjoyment appropriate to the time. It helped make the film characters real and relatable to many viewers. Couldn’t the same be said of the Idol Coke drinkers? Does seeing them drink soda, regardless of the brand, make them more relatable to a vast majority of their viewers? Probably so, considering the show’s audience demographic is youths to young adults. And if the viewer relates more on a personal level to the characters on their television screen, are they not more inclined to participate with the show and watch more frequently? So are these brand placements helping to sell more products, or are they subliminally helping the show to solidify an audience? I feel they have the potential to be successful at both. But, as a Marketplace segment on new TV ads relates, there are no forms of quantitative analysis to be able to prove it. In that segment Michael Burgi states, “I don’t think it works any more or less than advertising has.”

I cannot argue the fact that there may be critics who feel that TV viewers are being duped by these brand placements and that FCC regulation could be required. Or that artistic integrity could suffer if placements become too rampant. But don’t viewers also see paid ad placements in other subtle/subliminal formats such as when we watch scrolling banners at basketball and soccer games, or see stadium billboards when watching football? Will the FCC eventually want to regulate those impressions as well?

Just as there may be those being duped, there is also a segment of the viewing audience which will not be impacted by viewing these brand placements. I enjoyed Reese’s Pieces before E.T. ever came to earth. But I didn’t eat more because of him. The same holds true for me with Simon Cowell and Coke. (He actually made me drink Scotch… to ease my pain!)

As I stated earlier, product placement enhances reality for the viewer. It’s all a matter of solidifying the media’s context. Here’s an example from another Marketplace segment:

MAN IN AD: These guys, they’ve been working all day, they have to be really hungry.

WOMAN IN AD: You’re probably right. So I had an idea . . . ha ha, Wendy’s!

Yes, it’s a blatant “endorsement” for the Wendy’s “brand”. But isn’t it also an endorsement of the fast-food industry as a whole? Which is worse: the brand advertisement itself or the support of less-than-healthy eating choices that the bulk of the American TV audience relates to? Think how out of context that blurb would be if it ended, “You’re probably right. So I had an idea . . . ha ha, let’s go home and have some fruits and veggies!” You would hear a collective click as most of America changed the channel.

In conclusion, I may have asked more questions than I answered in this discussion. What do you think about some of my ideas?


Advertisement Clutter: Defeat With Relevence

It’s an obvious statement that ad clutter is rampant across all major mass media forms. One half of most major news and lifestyle magazines are advertisements, otherwise known as “non-content”. You can expect a 5-to-8 minute commercial break every 20 minutes on most terrestrial radio stations (and choose to change channels if you so desire). Online, there is an overabundance of web sites created simply as an ad vehicle to make money for their developers. Vivian uses the medium of television to introduce the concept of ad clutter through commercialism, “a phenomenon in which advertisements compete against each other and reduce the impact of all of them.” In noting television advertising’s pervasive reach, he states it “far outpaces other media,” and this “indicates its effectiveness in reaching a diverse mass audience,” (Vivian. p. 301.) Approximately 14-15 minutes of every hour of television we watch is consumed by advertising.

Let’s use the Super Bowl to help qualify this. In my opinion, the overabundance of spots during the Super Bowl – ad clutter – tends to degrade the results overall. Even just as that event ends, I sometimes struggle to remember back to all the spots I’ve seen over the previous 4 hours. Therefore, quality of the commercials helps – but quantity hurts. There are just so many messages bombarding you in that time span that I think it’s difficult to perceive the messages as they were intended. That, to me, is a perfect example of ad clutter. Now consider the fact that many viewers watch those commercials purely for entertainment value, which makes one question the effectiveness of a $3 million advertising investment.

But I also think we live now in a time when ad clutter is diminishing due to changes in media, or demassification. I have heard of ad budgets cut in half, or worse. From a recent NPR web post we learn, “Kelleher’s car dealerships used to spend about $170,000 a month on advertising. Now, just $60,000. Kelleher says about 17 percent of his revenue goes to advertising, and that’s all he can afford.” Lower budgets equates to fewer advertisers, thus less ad clutter. Fewer advertisers equates to lesser competition. As discussed in a previous post, newspaper advertisers are changing tactics and moving to different media. Watch carefully this weekend during Sunday afternoon football. You’ll see fewer advertisers and more repetitive spots. And in advertising effectiveness, repetition is a good thing.

At its worst, ad clutter degrades the effectiveness of all the messages involved. At its best, ad clutter is forcing advertisers and marketers to create new methods and techniques for getting their message heard and understood by its intended target. TV Week reported that since 2007, the National Geographic Channel has been experimenting with ways to combat ad clutter “by inserting relevant snippets of content into ad breaks; by ridding their shows of commercial ‘cues’ so viewers don’t know a show is set to break for commercials,” and other methods.

Appropriately, “Mad Men” producer Matthew Weiner refused to play to AMC’s wishes to shorten the shows run time to add 2.5 more minutes of commercials. Both parties got their way: the show ran 2.5 minutes longer than before, surpassing the traditional 60 minute show. Artistic integrity over ad clutter.

New marketing strategies such as guerilla marketing, experiential marketing, and others yet to be invented will assist advertisers in cutting through the clutter. The web has also proved to be a breakthrough medium in these emerging strategies. New concepts like “augmented reality” intertwine traditional (print) and new (online) media to create indelible viewer responses. These are incredibly inventive concepts that differentiate product experiences, cut through the clutter, and bring a unique message home to each viewer.

Lastly, a hot term online now is relevancy, and Google’s own advertising model – AdWords – takes full advantage of this. To me, a relevant ad also cuts through the clutter. It’s the purest form of segmentation because each ad is totally appropriate for the market segment viewing it. If a relevant ad message is specifically targeted to a viewer’s tastes, the viewer has a better experience with the ad message, and thus the ads are more effective. A win win, as far as I see it.

Marketing News: The Mass Media “Drug”

I am ambivalent about the concept that one consequence of mass media is “narcotizing dysfunction.” While I do agree that certain forms of mass media can create narcotizing effects – how many times have we all sat open-mouthed, enraptured at a spellbinding movie – I disagree with the Lazarsfeld/Merton postulation, put forth in ‘Mass Communication, Popular Taste and Organized Social Action’, that submersion in media can make viewers passive and apathetic – in short, dysfunctional. But there are cases to be made in both camps.

On the dysfunctional front, Raymond Williams comments, “Isn’t the real threat of ‘mass culture’…that it reduces us to an endlessly mixed, undiscriminating, fundamentally bored reaction?” and “at times, even, we take it as a kind of drug.” His comments do hold true. Secondly, look at the concept of media-induced rituals. While they may contribute order and structure to the lives of some individuals, those automated movements could also be viewed as if they are drug-induced habits generated because of the media. For instance, my wife delves so deeply into her Saturday morning review of hot media Entertainment Weekly that sometimes it can be hard to get her attention. Lastly, as I worked my way late at night through the essays in ‘Media Studies, A Reader’ (more hot media), I found myself dozing off as if drugged. Media narcotics! (Or merely sleep deprivation?)

I, however, tend to be more in line with the theory that mass media can move a society into aggressive, decisive action. Not a dysfunctional quality at all! Put forth in Vivian’s text, we have “the view of many mass media historians that the media have helped to bind society rather than divide it,” and while defining Agenda-Setting and Status Conferral by using the then-media-saturated death of Matthew Shepard, Vivian states, “it was tragic gay-bashing, and coverage of the event moved gay rights higher on the national agenda.” Even Lazarsfeld and Merton state, “it is evident that the mass media have lifted the level of information among large populations.”

Without a doubt, information is the opiate of the masses. One simply has to look at the recent Presidential campaigns for proof. The mass media has been offering frenzied coverage for months, and as a result, the masses have been inundated with information and opinions about the upcoming event through TV, radio, newspapers, books, magazines and online media channels. And what is the result? A population that not only “congratulates itself on the lofty state of interest and information” (Lazarsfeld/Merton) but a group that also added the “vicarious performance” of enacting social and political change by electing the next United States President. With this in mind, while some believe that mass media can make us fall short in that performance action, our current history shows that a narcotized public, saturated with information (and interest) is not apathetic and passive, but can be an engine of change.

A Branding Image Lesson…From 1988


When you set a marketing goal to capture 1% of the consumer soft drink market, but manage to capture only one-tenth of that, it could be called disappointing. “”Disappointment?” said 7-Up’s then-chief executive, John R. Albers. ”I’ll be honest. It’s a failure.”

I would dare call it an unmitigated disaster, and with the product development angle that 7-Up marketing strategists took, I’m surprised it didn’t cause serious deterioration of the 7-Up brand in the marketplace. The major problem with 7-Up’s 1988 introduction of 7-Up Gold was that it forced consumers to make a cataclysmic shift in their thinking about the 7-Up brand image and perception in general. Product marketers introduced 7-Up Gold with only brief test marketing, little more than rudimentary taste-testing. Gold faced an uphill struggle from the get-go. One problem was that 7-Up Gold was caffeinated – an undesirable about-face on the 7-Up mantra “Never had it, never will.” Suddenly… it had it. And they lied to us.

Another problem was the product’s appearance. 7-Up was recognized as the “un-cola”, and in the consumer’s mind that obviously meant “not like cola” – clear in color, clean in taste. But 7-Up Gold had a reddish caramel hue. From the confused consumer’s point of view, it was no longer un-anything: it was just another cola.

The third problem was taste. The perceived 7-Up brand taste was clean, citrusy (lemon-lime), clear and crisp. 7-Up Gold tasted nothing like that… or even like anything else on the soft drink market at the time. A spiced, cinnamon-apple flavored soda, it was simply too new. However, 7-Up’s short marketing development taste-testing studies showed that people seemed to like the taste of Gold. But sadly, you can’t launch a new soda product on taste alone – for a new product, taste is an experience, not an impression. If the marketplace doesn’t understand the product, or see how it fits a defined brand, they simply will never try it. So they’ll never get to the taste experience.

In the consumer’s mind, the 7-Up brand had a defined “meaning” (thoughts and feelings that are evoked within a person when presented with a contextual sign). Gold was so out of bounds with the 7-Up brand that it destroyed the context. 7-Up had specific attributes that helped it establish a position in the marketplace – different color (clear), different taste (lemon-lime), different effect (non-caffeinated). But suddenly, those attributes were gone, and the 7-Up brand was now competing on the same level as Coke and Pepsi, who had years of dominance based on these particular attributes. Consumer confusion ran rampant, and took consumer confidence with it. The effect was a one-tenth of one percent market share, and to be honest, I’m surprised the product didn’t do more damage to the core of 7-Up’s brand equity.

Brand image is a powerful concept, a powerful associator, and a powerful motivator. So powerful that not even $10 million in advertising could change it. “…the idea of a dark-colored, caffeinated 7-Up was the hurdle most consumers never cleared.” (NYTimes.com)

The power of brand image and perception can also be seen in other similar failed product launches. In 1985 the Coca-Cola company reformulated their iconic recipe and introduced “New Coke” on the consumer public. But the consumer public was not happy. To brand loyalists and soda drinkers in general, Coke was just right the way it was (embodying intense product-related brand equity). Consumer outrage, and plummeting sales, forced Coke to return to their original formula, re-introduced as Coke Classic. This re-release and return to their core product attributes caused sales to surge, and some speculated that the entire program was a marketing ploy. But Coca-Cola doesn’t strike me as the type of company that would purposely risk a level of consumer outrage (and brand dissolve) just to fix the problem and win back our hearts. What if our hearts were broken permanently?

Another example of how brand perception can control consumer thinking is McDonald’s introduction of the Arch Deluxe sandwich line in 1996. These sandwiches were marketed to adults “with more sophisticated palates.” The name, the ingredients, the market positioning – and the price – was “deluxe.” The problem was that the name “McDonald’s” and the term “sophisticated” caused major consumer brand disconnect. McD’s is convenient. It is, dare I say, cheap and fast. It is not sophisticated. This brand disconnect, along with a poor nutritional score, caused lackluster sales of the Arch Deluxe. It has since been completely phased out of McDonald’s menu.

Just as 7-Up Gold tried to bend consumer brand perception – to disastrous results – it’s easy to see from these examples of other failed marketing ideas that brand image and brand equity is powerful to possess… but difficult to work against.

Office Space: Advertise Your Skills

It’s simple – your office space has a direct effect on your client relationships. For instance, considering the economy, it’s an advantage to have clients consider your workspace as being humble. Years ago, this was not considered to be true. However, times do change and so do clients’ perspectives.

I remember many years ago, when I worked as an in-house designer for a mid-size consulting firm, our office space, location, aura and décor were the best of the best: the best office furniture, best building, best golf outings, best holiday parties, best coffee, best carpet, etc. The theory was that we had to impress our clients, key employees, and even potential clients with our office. Being the best meant having the best. We wanted everyone to think that we were first-class, and that meant having the most handsome offices on the block. And, for the most part, it worked. 

But, things change. Now, my surroundings are much more unpretentious. Not less creative, but a definite less-thrills approach. No more designer desks, limited edition prints hanging on the walls, or expensive toiletries in the bathroom – just our team in a nice, artistic space. Even if we could afford the best office available, our clients are not looking for that. It’s “hip” to be frugal, especially in dealing with your company’s money. The cost of your office space is directly relevant to how your clients view your billings. The more frugality they see in your surroundings, the more they assume you will be with their money.

Think of your expenses (like your office) as a bottle of wine. I was watching a program on the Travel Channel about he shrinking economy and how it was affecting the high-end restaurants. A head chef stated that his business was not great, but it was still good: people were just switching from the very expensive to the more humble offerings. For instance, a few years prior, everyone wanted to be seen with the most expensive bottle of wine. Now, the same clients might consider it tacky to have an ultra bougie bottle sitting on their table. A good bottle, yes – an extremely expensive bottle, no.

We must realize that even if clients can afford the billings of an expensive agency, most will feel guilty in doing business with them… the same as the bottle of wine. Being frugal does not mean having bad taste. Use good design to help make your office your own, and with very few bucks, you can have a unique space in no time.


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New Media and the Internet’s Staying Power

What do the major components of mass media, books, magazines, newspapers, sound recordings, movies, radio and television all have in common? Generally speaking, their presence in modern society is pervasive and their purpose is to either inform or entertain. Through the presentation of topical information and advertising placements, these components all contain forms of persuasion. Additionally, they help to create a binding effect in communities by “giving messages that become a shared experience.” (John Vivian – The Media of Mass Communication, Seventh Edition 2004. p. 4)

These components are differentiated and categorized through various models – ie. books, magazines, newspapers and movie theatre presentations – which are considered hot media because of the high degree of involvement while viewing them. On the other hand, television is a cool media because it requires less “intellectual involvement”. Due to programming considerations, radio content can straddle the divide and be considered warm media.

However, the primary differences within these components are their delivery methods, which we can use to define their current state of accessibility and pervasiveness within the domestic mass market audience. For example, in 2005, there were 847 television sets and 2,115 radios per 1,000 people in the US population. (Vivian p. 3) Again in 2005, daily newspapers reached an estimated 127 million people per day. (Vivian p. 76) That’s an incredibly deep media penetration for those models, pointing to their persistence and importance in society. However, these ratios proved a huge divide between the US and other developing countries. India, the most populous country charted, had a mere 68 televisions and 117 radios per 1,000 people. (Vivian p. 3) The world was ripe for leveling the playing field.

This is where a current technological “game changer” comes into play – the “new media” World Wide Web. It’s an understatement to say that the Internet created a cataclysmic shift in worldwide accessibility to all forms of media. As Vivian quotes, “Every major mass media company has put products on the web.” (Vivian p. 216) He also talks about technological convergence, the digitization of media, and how the two blend together into various outlets. Local daily newspapers and minor market lifestyle magazines now have websites, giving them the same potential audience as The Wall Street Journal or Time magazine (which, of course, also have websites). At the time, Hulu.com brought a large chunk of television network programming to the web, expanding the accessibility and reach of the programs. iTunes, along with other (illegal) file sharing applications created the ability to download and watch movies at the viewers convenience on their laptop computer. Apple TV and other game consoles allow us to watch movies and other syndicated content on our 60” high-def televisions. Amazon.com offers book downloads to high-tech digital reader devices. Facebook currently has millions of members on its popular social media site. These and other web technologies have put full access to media directly at our fingertips – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Demassification is over. Now remassification is taking place. The web tore down the distinctions of traditional media and blended them together into one pervasive, mass universe. Domestic web usage has become the definition of the term “pervasive.” Vivian noted that in 2005, web usage was approaching 100 million users (30% of the US population). In 2009 alone, the number was approaching 227 million or 74% of the population. That’s more than double the users in just a 4-year period! (Internet World Stats)

The key component that furthered this cataclysmic shift is broadband – or high-speed – internet access. Broadband breathed life into the web, enabling faster access to data and downloads of large media files (such as movies and audio files). Although the US leads all nations in broadband access – 81 million subscribers as of June 2009 compared with 31 million in #2 Japan (OECD web) – there is even more convenience on the horizon.

However, just like the emergence of newspapers and television, implementation of internet access in third world countries still lags far behind. But with lower infrastructure installation costs and increased access to PCs, this field is leveling over time.

With the web’s accessibility, penetration, pervasiveness and absorption into daily life, one can immediately recognize the Internet’s importance as a cultural force. The more difficult question is – what will the business of media look like in just the very near future? What will be the next “game changer”?

Interestingly, Vivian’s definition of “new media” is “current media technology whose potential has not yet been fully recognized.” (Vivian p. 9) What will be in store for media audiences with these continual technological advancements? As new content and functionality constantly evolve, will the web continually leapfrog its own potential? Will it always be “new media”?

Trade Show Marketing – Back to the Future

In 2010, PANTS – the largest summer horticultural trade show on the east coast – featured green products, environmental tours, and social-responsibility seminars, packing a great amount of energy on the floor between vendors and customers. Since the move back to Pennsylvania, the show has gained undeniable excitement and even more attendees as the “green thumb movement” receives further support, sparking a contagious and inspiring environmental passion among the show’s staff and volunteers.

We wanted to capture this energy in the PANTS marketing collateral as well as tie-in the environmentally conscious aspect into the campaign visuals. The final designs were centered around “common” horticultural images (a watering can, a leaf, etc.) bursting with sunlight and positive energy. A successful show all around, holberg design was proud to be behind such a fun, ecological project.

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Wednesday Ramblings: Deck the Halls with Boughs of Branding

It’s that time of year when the market has become saturated with ads, branding, and design strategies dripping in red, green and white – and all set to the tune of jingling bells and chuckling Santas. Nothing is safe from the hypnotic and unavoidable Christmas theme infiltration, as businesses ranging from Volkswagen to KFC to Target add snowflake embellishments and mistletoe sprigs to logos, websites, and food products. This seasonal market saturation has become so expected that many consumers don’t give it a second thought, until an episode like the Starbucks Red Cup Debacle of 2015 brings these holiday brand alterations to the forefront. The simple fact that many buyers proceeded to get up in arms over the coffee company’s product design choice is a clear sign that in spite of it being a yearly ritual, Christmas marketing is no joke.

Thus, while keeping these trends in mind, an interesting question can be posed. With obvious corporations like McDonalds, Coca Cola and Walmart existing as some of the vastly recognizable heavy hitters in the branding world, what reigns supreme as possibly the biggest brand of all?

Christmas. Christmas, you say? Yes, Christmas. Now, while this may appear to be taking the side of those cynical, Scrooge-esque folks by putting the magical holiday in such a perspective, let’s take a closer look. Respectfully putting the religious elements aside, Christmas really has everything a successful brand needs to have staying power: global reach, the ability to create trends, the possibility for controversy due to varied opinions, visual influence, widespread usage, and most importantly, the ability to appeal to the masses. Much like the big brands on the market year round, when you hear the word “Christmas”, visuals flood the mind – and in all likelihood, these images are probably very similar to the ones anyone else would mentally conjure. Additionally, many of these visuals are unified by color usage – which proves to be an important branding strategy any time you’re attempting to convey a message or evoke a particular feeling among consumers – and nothing says Christmas quite like the combination of red, green and white. Hey, mix them all together in varying amounts, and the resulting hue even harkens to that of a beloved holiday favorite: hot chocolate!

Now, while that last statement may have been a bit out on the proverbial snowman’s limb, these are all just some of the reasons why Christmas visuals run rampant in the winter marketing season. Even with the implementation of multiple icons including reindeer, evergreens, wrapped presents, Santa’s sleigh, and the ever-dreaded coal, the importance of Christmas as a season, a familial celebration, and a worldwide brand unifies the holiday and puts it in a league of its own: a league with the kind of legacy that the Walmarts of the branding world are ironically asking for from Santa.

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