Whether it’s Christmas, Halloween or the height of balmy summer, seasonal branding can get you noticed, define or change how customers perceive you, and even improve sales. This Christmas for example, small businesses everywhere will be wondering how best to adapt their marketing materials to cash in on the warm glow and deep pockets of the season.
Of course, the real challenge lies in balancing festive exuberance with brand continuity. It’s really important you don’t forget who you are, or your customers might too. Make sure you avoid drowning out your messaging or selling point with jingle bells and glitter, keeping your seasonal branding coherent and in tune with your core identity.
Planning your campaign
When it comes to planning your seasonal branding efforts, it boils down to two crucial elements: relevance and consistency.
Choose your season or event carefully – trying to cover everything from Pancake Day to Burns Night will be exhausting for both you and your customers. Which is most relevant to your audience and your product or service? Of course, everybody likes Christmas, but if you’re a health clinic or a tanning salon you might want to reconsider!
Consistency is important both across the seasons and across your marketing output. The brand experience should be seamless, whether the customer is looking at your business card, brochure, press ad, website or Twitter feed, whether it’s Christmas day or August bank holiday.
The key to this is setting your core identity in stone, and always referring back to this. Use it as the starting point for any seasonal branding, rather than starting with a seasonal idea and then trying to ‘brand it’.
Top tips for capturing the season’s feelings
If you’re considering some festive branding this Christmas, check out our top tips and ideas for inspiration:
It’s risky changing your logo too much as it’s so central to your identity, but it could have a subtle addition in keeping with the season. Take Tesco – the paper crown balanced jauntily over the O barely detracts from their famous logo, but adds an element of fun and evokes nostalgia for family Christmas dinners from years gone by.
Every season has its own colour palette, which can immediately inspire the right mood and Christmas has several. There’s the Dickens Christmas of deep reds, greens and gold, the sleek and icy Christmas of silver and pale blue, or the cosy Nordic Christmas evoked by bright red, white and parcel paper brown. If your branding is normally neutral a splash of colour will evoke Christmas cheer, but if you’ve already got a strong colour scheme it may be a challenge matching it up.
Although we all love reindeer and snowmen and Father Christmas, it’s difficult to incorporate this with your normal branding if you’re not usually very playful or exuberant. From subtle snowflakes or holly boughs, to minimal calligraphy or stylish line drawings, there are plenty of ways to incorporate festive images without being too twee.
Carefully crafted copy can inspire those feelings of warmth – be emotive and cheerful, but stick to your core messaging. Copy is also really important if you’re sending out branded Christmas cards – go the extra mile with the message inside so it’s not too generic. It might be tempting to use a festive font, but if you’ve got a house font used across other marketing materials it may help keep things consistent.
Think outside the box – you’re not restricted to Christmas cards or promotional flyers! If you have a product, why not adjust the packaging, like the star-studded red cups Starbucks serves its Christmas lattes in? Meanwhile if you’re service-led and looking for a subtle option, seasonal business stationery can inspire the right feelings without impacting on your serious image. And if you want to go all out, branded promotional gifts always go down well!
Branding is all about defining who you are and what you stand for, and associating feelings and concepts with your name. Seasons come and go and can be leveraged, but your core identity should be recognisable all year round.