Holiday promotion. What comes to mind when you think about "holiday promotion?" It's definitely expected and highly anticipated when you're a business owner. The deals, the steals, and the fancy appeals is what holiday promotion is all about! But how do you authentically promote during the holidays without sounding like just another bad radio ad? (Cue the sleigh bells!)
This post is going to break down the good, bad, and ugly of holiday promotion as well as give you a few design tips for keeping it classy. (Feel free to grab some hot cocoa and crank those Christmas tunes!)
First, what comes to mind when you think "holiday graphics?" Let me help...
It's what our society is bombarded with, and with the attempt of standing out and looking as HOLIDAY!!!!!! as possible, we're all going unnoticed and bothering the heck out of our followers.
If you were to ask anyone who's ever worked with me whether or not I like to design for Christmas, they would all answer rather unanimously about my despise for it. And I LOVE Christmas! Christmas designs are just tricky to navigate and promote well with. So today I want to help you, writer and business owner, who needs to promote and market during this holiday season but doesn't know where to start.
(Note: all of the poor marketing examples are taken from larger retailers and/or generic advertising resources. I understand the limitations that a lot of small businesses face, and in no way wish to highlight their efforts in a negative light!)
1. Keep your brand strong.
The most effective, classy, standout promotional graphics I see this time of year are those that remain within brand. No red + green combo, no Christmas clipart dancing about—just hey, here's a discount for my services, check it out. That being said, it IS a fun season for interesting graphics, so play with maybe one or two impact pieces that say "holiday" without screaming "HOLIDAY!!!!" This could be a punch of color (that accents your brand colors), a bold (tasteful) font, or an abstract Christmas element (you can say "Christmas tree" without showing a literal Christmas tree).
Beautiful example of sticking with your bold, bright colors of your brand. Interesting, and full of impact.
2. Write creative content.
Stretch your wordy wisdom, writer, and play with unique ways to say the usual things. Are there other ways you can say "Holiday Sale?" Think about good replacements for "Incredible deal, amazing discount, a special gift." Use your talent, stretch that creative writing muscle, and have at it!
"Share Joy." Clever. And who would argue with sharing joy?
3. Keep it AUTHENTIC.
The last thing you want is to make your audience feel like you're giving them a sales bribe or advertising to them (they're your community—respect them!). The following are a few elements in graphics that immediately communicate the cheesy and repetitive "Christmas sale."
- SLANTED TEXT. Weird, I know. But placing your text at crazy slants says "cheesy," advertisement, and cheap. That being said, a slant can be used in good-taste. Use it sparingly, and only use it in ONE direction. Multiple blocks of text at different slants is not only confusing, but cheesy.
Bad, salsey slanting.
Good, classy slanting.
- CLIP ART. As clever as it seems, clip art is REALLY overused in holiday promotion. From Christmas trees to gift tags and gold bells—they all may be items that are around your home this time of year, but choosing cheesy renditions of them for your marketing may not be the best choice. Opt for something more interesting—whether it's a Christmas illustration downloaded from Etsy or your own take on a little Christmas art.
- SANTA. I don't mean to be heartless when I say this, but unless you're using an actual Santa for a promotional event, you should really leave Ol' Saint Nick out of it.
- CHRISTMAS FONTS. I'm talking about searching for "Christmas" on Dafont and pulling the top results. Opt for simple, bold script fonts or clean, readable handwritten fonts if you're looking for a different Christmas touch.
- BRIGHT RED AND GREEN. I'm talking about your classic, no variation, bright n' bold red and green combo. It's overused and feels too salesy when promoting anything Christmas. So take a step back and think of different variations to make it stand out (remember to incorporate your brand)!
4. Use large, clean fonts.
When in doubt, just use a nice, clean font—make it large, make it easily readable, and get straight to the point.
Clear, to-the-point, AND within brand! (Woot!)
Clever framing with clear, simple messaging.
5. Experiment with unconventional colors.
I think by now you're getting the idea that red and green aren't necessarily Christmas necessities anymore. Pay attention to what you're seeing at stores like Target and the trends you're noticing with handmade products. These creatives always have something unconventional they're trying. I'll never forget the trend when my husband and I first got married: pink and blue. I still have several pink and blue ornaments hanging from my tree from that year...
Also, think simple and standout. Keeping your brand colors in mind, that might mean accenting with more grays, blacks, and golds. Don't overpower your brand with crazy colors, but also beware of using colors too typical for your brand. You still want to STAND OUT, you just don't want to clash.
Try Pinterest for a never-ending source of inspiration:
6. Communicate your message clearly.
When it comes to sales and promotions, it's natural for your customers to want to search for "the catch." Think of your own behavior when you see special promotions and deals. Make sure that whatever it is you are promoting is CLEAR. "This is what I'm offering, and this is how you can receive it."
Have someone sit down and read through your marketing graphic and see what they take away from it. Was it made clear what you are offering? Did it excite them and make them want to buy? Did they feel like it was an authentic offer, or instead did they feel like in some way they were being duped?
If your message isn't made clear, your beautiful design was all for not.
Want to share your holiday promotion this season? Feel free to comment with the link! Best wishes to you as you promote this holiday season!