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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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