The nine lessons of Christmas (for brands)

Christmas may come but once a year, but for writers it holds some valuable lessons for 2015 and beyond. After all, the festive brand – including our most popular Christmas traditions – has been going strong for more than 200 years: what’s its secret?

 1) Once upon a time

Whether it’s the nativity or Home Alone, storytelling is a powerful way to convey your message. A great story builds a more emotional connection, strengthens loyalty and creates a ‘snowball effect’ through the press, social media and word of mouth.

2) Build intrigue

“Marley was dead, to begin with…” The opening to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol shows the importance of a strong opening sentence. The first few words of any piece of copy can either win your reader over, or lose them altogether. Go for something with impact that really grabs attention.

3) Keep it personal

When it comes to festive jumpers, one size doesn’t fit all. And the same is true of your marketing. With so much data at your fingertips, you can really focus your messages and test headlines and subject lines to find the perfect fit for your readers.

4) Show your true colours

Some brands behave a little like a Christmas chameleon: warm and welcoming in December, but cold and distant the rest of the year. A touch of humility and a dash of human language can make a big difference all year round.

5) People love surprises

A great reveal. An unexpected turn of phrase. The best communications still have the power to surprise.

6) It’s the thought that counts

You needn’t spend a fortune to create a big impression. A few carefully chosen words are worth a thousand pictures.

7) Good things come in threes

Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. For some reason, things that come in threes are more satisfying, effective and memorable. It’s an old writing principle that is used in everything from some of history’s greatest speeches to canny advertising. Even St. Matthew (and his three wise men) knew this little trick.

8) Break down your information

“Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves…” Just imagine how unwieldy the carol would become if you had to use conjunctions between every line: “Four calling birds and three French hens with two turtle doves…”

9) And a partridge in a pear tree…

It might not be the way they teach it in school texts – but starting sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’ is okay in our books. It can give copy pace, make it more conversational and add a more modern-sounding edge. It’s a rule of thumb that lasts for life, not just for Christmas.

Of course, as any great pantomime dame or TV comedy legend will say – “It’s how you tell ‘em that counts”. So with these handy yuletide tips (and maybe our copywriting help), you’re sure to get your words and messages just right for 2015.