Creative, fun, and engaging campaign ideas often flow at this time of year as we marketers brainstorm how to capture the most sales and drive brand awareness during the holiday season. Your customers meanwhile have developed a relationship with your brand, and they have an expectation about your brand personality. Do these seasonal creative ideas coincide or collide with this established personality, messaging, visual style, and tone of voice? Let’s first have a quick overview of how branding originated, how it has changed and where it stands today. In marketing terms, “branding” came about simply to differentiate one product from another. With naming and visual identity, brands could attract consumers and, hopefully, keep them loyally purchasing their product. As the years passed from those early days of marketing, branding came to mean SO MUCH more; brands soon represented everything consumers thought and felt about products and/or services. People started to have relationships in their minds with brands, and it then became a marketer’s job to maintain clarity and consistency of branding in order to maintain and nourish those relationships. In today’s digital world, the relationship people have with brands goes much deeper than ever before. Consumers come into contact with brands via a huge variety of touchpoints, from physical stores, television, mobile devices, tablets, desktop computers. They maintain “conversations” and “relationships” via a huge variety of marketing channels and social media. So, what does all this have to do with the holiday season? Well, you do not have a different brand in the holiday season than you do during the rest of the year. Your customers should still have a the same relationship with your brand in June as they do in December. As your creative juices flow, make sure you’re doing so with those parameters at the front of your mind. Make sure the tone and voice with which your brand normally speaks is the same voice used during your holiday promotions. If you have a just-the-facts, super-serious brand, but during the holidays your start using an overly-casual, borderline-flippant tone of voice, your customers will experience at minimum confusion and at most alienation. Similarly, your visual brand can very well accompanied by some seasonally appropriate merriment, but make sure you don’t stray from your core identity or you might be hindering brand affinity. Changing visual style is certain to raise an eyebrow and build doubt in the mind of your customers. One perfect example of a runaway holiday promotion comes to us from Target. Since 2010, Target has built its holiday campaign around a maniacal, price-obsessed housewife who trains early to fight the crowds on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season. While getting a good deal has always been important to the Target brand, it certainly has not been central to the brand in the same way or to the same degree that this campaign conveyed. In fact, Target is making a concerted effort this year to distance itself from this style of holiday campaign. Jones, Target’s CMO recently stated: "In the last few years, we drifted too far away from some of those elements that make Target, Target."branding or holiday strategy & planning, reach out to our strategy team.