Festive branding with purpose

By Sanjana Mathur & Shan Khan

The holidays are a great time for brands to connect with consumers by engaging their festive spirit.  However, brands seeking to indulge in the season must also tackle the chaotic clutter that ensues.

To add fuel to the holiday bonfire, brands are also faced with the additional challenge of holding true to their brand while creating meaningful touchpoints that resonate with consumers. Brands that focus too much on the holiday itself can lose out on the opportunity to build relevant brand associations. To create impactful and memorable consumer connections, striking this balance is crucial for brands.

Many companies achieve this beautifully by producing engaging content that also aligns with their brand. Landor explores how these companies have ingeniously integrated the festive spirit into their packaging, messaging, and customer experiences without succumbing to clichés.


Get in with the cheer

Beautifully designed and unexpected holiday packaging that introduces a novelty factor, like one-of-a-kind or limited editions, can grab consumer attention and prompt a purchase. While this does require brands to push boundaries when it comes to innovation and design, it is well worth the effort to truly stand out in the crowd and create delight for consumers.

Coca-Cola literally “tied” into the holidays with its limited-edition label that turns into a Christmas bow. The company went beyond the go-to Christmas snowflakes and created a fun, never-before-seen way to engage with consumers.

Be gifting ready

The holidays can be a tough time for consumers. On top of the  work-life balance, buying and wrapping gifts becomes yet another chore. Cadbury leaned into this pain point, giving its customer one less thing to worry about: relevant to Indian festivities, beautiful, gifting-ready “Celebration” boxes tempt consumers to buy an occasion-appropriate gift for their loved ones.

Become a tradition

Holidays are all about tradition. Some brands have successfully developed traditions of their own, becoming synonymous with the occasion itself.

For 20 years, Starbucks has marked the beginning of the holiday season by introducing a range of limited-edition Holiday cups. Consumers all over the world love their cups just as much as their first sip of Starbucks’ seasonally available Peppermint Mocha. The brand has earned an essential place in people’s idea of the Holiday season by routinely delivering these beautifully designed cups and delicious holiday-themed drinks.

Tell a compelling story

A sure-shot way to pull in consumers is to tug at their heartstrings during this time when emotions are running high. Brands can engage and connect on a personal level with compelling stories that put the spotlight on the consumer. However, while this is the most sought-after route for brands, it is crucial for companies to prioritize their brand purpose without getting lost in the clichés of the season.

Clothing brand Sabhyata designs Indian wear with an ethnic twist for the modern Indian woman. During Diwali, the company created an impactful consumer connection without losing sight of its values. It used the progressive stance of the brand to tell a compelling story to reach the modern consumer who lives in a traditionally conservative nation. The campaign, “Redefine Tradition,” sought to project new father-daughter relationships that were in sync with modern India by reimagining traditional household interactions, questioning gender stereotypes, and highlighting inequalities in ways that truly resonated with the target consumer.

When you share everything with your loved ones then why not Diwali? #AadhiAadhiDiwali


Buck the narrative

Let’s be honest, sometimes the holidays can get overwhelming and saccharine for even the most high-spirited consumer. Brands can delve into the vitality of the season by providing consumers with some much-needed relief and a unique yet insightful perspective on the festivities.

Mochi shoes took a new approach during Raksha Bandhan. While everyone else speaks to the warm, fuzzy feelings of brotherly protection and family, Raksha Bandhan decided to focus on helping intimidated young Indian men “escape the bro-zone.” Apart from memorably engaging with consumers nationally, the ad emphasizes the brand’s stance of being different, stylish, and cool.

Mochi Shoes takes a new step this #Rakshabandhan

Another clutter-breaker was Harvey Nichols’ special range of Christmas gifts, “Sorry, I Spent It On Myself.” Consumers could buy beautifully packaged but ultra-cheap and ridiculous items like toothpicks, sink plugs, and paper clips. Harvey Nichols flipped the typical Christmas dialogue and cut through the clutter by addressing people’s real sentiments: that deep down, what you buy for yourself is more important than what you give to others. Consumers could give these Harvey Nichols gifts to friends and family, saving money to buy gifts for themselves. Needless to say, consumers found this hilarious and bought, shared, and engaged with Harvey Nichols on a whole new level.

A Harvey Nichols Christmas 2013 -- Sorry, I Spent It On Myself

While the holidays are a great time to engage with consumers, it is also a time when competition for consumers is at its peak. It’s essential to stand out in the sea of holiday clichés by staying relevant, engaging, and most importantly, different.