The Power of the Season

Fall is here, and as the weather grows colder each week, our thoughts often shift to the feeling of abruptness that comes with the changing of the seasons. Wasn’t it just hot? Wow, is it really October already? Are the holidays really right around the corner? It sometimes feels to adults like the time flies by faster and faster each year, and each season arrives before we know it. For many children, the opposite is true – when you’re looking forward to a holiday season full of presents and cheer, or to a holiday full of fun scares, walks after dark and candy, the days can feel like weeks. While not every area of the country experiences a seasonal shift in their weather, we still look forward to what simply amounts to change, and recognizing a series of markers that symbolize the passage of time. There are powerful emotions at play, and savvy businesses have learned to incorporate seasonal changes into their branding, marketing and advertising, which allows them to better connect with their clients and apply a fresh and relevant facelift to their branding. It also effectively can capitalize on those emotions and create a bond between their brand and their target market.

Seasonal Marketing Vs. Seasonal Branding

Two weeks ago, we discussed the advantages and pitfalls involved with recognizing and acknowledging holidays in your digital marketing. The primary benefit of incorporating holidays into your marketing is the ability to create an emotional bond with your existing and prospective clients through shared experiences, while the primary pitfall of doing so is mishandling that emotional bond and creating adverse emotional effects in your audience. Incorporating seasonal elements into your branding has similar advantages and pitfalls – creating seasonal branding elements the right way can create an emotional bond with your customers, while doing it the wrong way can have the opposite effect.

It’s important to remember that applying seasonal changes to your branding is not the same as initiating a seasonal marketing or advertising campaign. Your branding represents the identity or “face” of your business, and a seasonal change must not represent a radical change or shift in your brand; for instance, we don’t become different people with each season, but our clothes can change. Brands that successfully incorporate seasonal branding shifts never fundamentally alter their brand, they simply apply a seasonal “change of clothes” that retains their core identity while presenting a fresh and relevant image to the world. One of our favorite examples is Starbuck’s use of their “red cup” during the holiday season. This seemingly slight shift in their branding is an event that many of their loyal customers look forward to each year. However, even this form of seasonal branding has stirred up controversy in years past; in 2015, some pundits and consumers believed that Starbuck’s “toned down” red cup, free of Christmas-themed designs, was part of a campaign to marginalize Christmas.

Striking The Right Tone

As with seasonal marketing, the key to mastering seasonal changes to your brand involves striking the right balance between celebrating a season tastefully and connecting with the largest percentage of your customers and target marketing and retaining your core branding elements and identity. Seasonal changes to your branding should be subtle ones, as your mission isn’t to reinvent the public image of your company with each season or holiday. In addition to being subtle, seasonal changes to your branding must also be tasteful, as your goal is to compliment the positive feelings that your customers and target market already have for your brand – a loud or abrasive shift in your branding can sabotage those positive feelings abruptly and sometimes irrevocably.
In our next post, we will discuss ways that you can incorporate subtle and tasteful changes to your digital branding with each passing season.