Classic Christmas Lessons: On Santa Claus and Brand Loyalty

This has been a fun tour of classic Christmas tales! I’m going to end off on the most iconic of all: Santa Claus.

As a character that was originally created by Coca Cola, Santa has grown into one of the most successful brands in history, with arguably unparalleled brand loyalty. It doesn’t hurt that you have to believe in him and behave yourself to get his gift on Christmas morning!

Santa As a Brand
The thing is, Santa is a really wonderful example of terrific branding. He is easily recognizable and associated with his trademark red and white suit; his white beard; his jolly laugh and his round belly, not to mention the company he keeps — meaning the elves and the reindeer, of course. Every sensory experience of Santa Claus is iconic, from the sound of his laugh, to the sight of his jolly silhouette, to the taste of the candy canes he hands out at the mall.

Do the elements of your brand garner this kind of recall? What do your customers experience when they step into your shop or interact with you? You can create familiarity and loyalty through every part of their experience, from the smell of your office, to the colours and iconography of your logo, to the music you use in your ads. Stay on brand, be kind to your market, and you, too, can build loyalty like old Saint Nick.

Santa As a Tradition
Which brings me to the next element of Santa’s popularity: tradition. If you believed in Santa and loved the magic and tradition as a child, chances are good that you’ll want to share this with your own children as an adult. Similarly, if you have a fantastic experience with a brand or company, you’ll want to pass it on to others. Be a business that people want to align with, for your ethics, your voice, your expertise, your image. Whatever your brand is, really embody that, in ways that people will easily remember.

Think of Starbucks: a very different brand than Santa Claus, everyone knows that iconic cup, and for most of us, it calls to mind positive feelings and memories of an enjoyable experience. One of the most important elements of this successful branding is its consistency.

Another possibility worth considering is creating a tradition that incorporates your services. Like Bailey’s in your coffee on Christmas morning; Red Lobster for a family dinner on December 23; Heritage Park for (Christmas event) or visiting Santa at the mall, creating a timely experience that your customers can revisit every year and make into a family tradition ensures that they’ll be coming back for years to come.

Santa’s Brand Loyalty
Lastly, but most important of all, is brand loyalty. By consistently living up to your brand values, adapting with the market, and showing appreciation to your clients, you can ensure that people are spreading good words about your business. Word of mouth is so huge in marketing, and building positive relationships with clients, staff, community and industry is how you achieve momentum with word of mouth.

It’s also crucial to know your brand champions — whether vendors or your clients — and show them your appreciation. This might mean a card or gift at Christmas, or any other time of year that you want to show your appreciation, or it might mean extending a discount to your top vendors.

If you’d like to revisit the other Classic Christmas Lessons I’ve shared this season, don’t miss my posts on A Christmas Carol; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; and Frosty the Snowman, and what each of these stories can teach us about marketing and client relationships.

And if you’d like to go over your marketing goals for 2016, I’d love to hear from you. Now is the perfect time to dream big and put those plans into action!

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