Santa as the Ultimate Brand

We always tell people that a brand isn’t your logo, your tagline, or really even who you say you are. A brand is all about the feeling you project, and the emotional connection the audience experiences. There are many examples of great brands out there, but hey, it’s the holiday season! So let’s take a look at who may be the ultimate brand – our round, jolly old friend, Santa Claus.

Earlier this week, a UK branding agency took a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek approach to Santa’s brand and created his brand standards book. In this brand refresh guide, he’s updated and now seen as *Santa* with the asterisks representing “a snowflake alighting on the eyelash of a fawn” and “the polar star”. *Santa* has a brand promise of XMAS: excellence, measurability, accountability and snow, as well as approved colors and representations of the logo. It’s everything a good brand needs, right?

I love the creativity, and yes, even some of the jabs taken at marketers. And it appears I’m not alone. This guide has been shared nearly 20,000 in the last couple of days.
While I’m chuckling about Santa’s Brandbook, I also think there are some takeaways:

1. Santa’s Brandbook is definitely satirical, but it does demonstrate that there is thought process that goes into a brand, how it’s presented, and how those who represent it behave. Plus, everything that goes into a brand must have a purpose (a REAL purpose) or it doesn’t belong. This guide gives us an extremely exaggerated (and relatively accurate) representation of how that all comes together.

2. On the flip side, it also calls out those in our industry who go overboard in hiding behind BS, diagrams and industry jargon when presenting brands. Yes, there is logic, research and creativity that goes into branding. But no, we don’t have to outfit our clients with boots and shovels, or venture into Never-Neverland with our language, confusing the client so much that no one knows which way is up or down.

3. Santa is an Ultimate Brand! Face it. Who doesn’t have an emotional connection to him? We know what he stands for (spreading good cheer). We know what he looks like (chubby, white beard, red suit). We know what to expect from our interactions with Santa (presents if we’ve been nice), and we also know that he expects us to behave a certain way (which we do if we don’t want to end up on the “naughty” list).

We all have memories and stories about Santa. The fact that Santa isn’t a real person or company doesn’t matter. Santa is the ultimate brand because he IS an emotion. We don’t think of him as a brand. That’s the brilliance of it all …

Ho. Ho. Ho.