Death by Chocolate

My name is Julie and I am a Chocaholic.

Not to belitte anyone else’s addiction, but this is a serious problem for me.

And it’s become virtually impossible to control, because I am not sure if you’ve noticed, but right now chocolate is EVERYWHERE!! It’s in Holiday gift boxes sent to my office, from well-meaning friends bringing over hostess gifts and perhaps most importantly and most surprisingly in EVERY SINGLE DRUG STORE AISLE IN THE FORM OF VALENTINE’S GIFTS.

What did I miss?

Since when does Valentine’s Day start on January 4th?

Hello. We should at least have a 2-week grace period until January 15th. Right?

I know retailer’s are hard up…but trust me there is just not that much love to celebrate.

Elf on the Shelf

Have you heard about this newest Christmas sensation and budding tradition? elf

It’s called Elf on the Shelf.

I think it’s been around a few years, it seems to be really gaining momentum with parents this season.

My understanding is the Elf watches the children to see if they’ve been naughty or nice. Every night he returns to the North Pole. And every morning he re-appears at a different location in the child’s house.

This last bit is what I think is so clever. By a simple act of moving the Elf, he is then rendered interactive.

Not in the wii or Nintendo DS Way, but in a much simpler and perhaps more powerful way through a combination of parental love and effort and childhood imagination.

What Your Holiday Card Says About Your Brand

‘Ti’s the season to send tidings of comfort and joy.

Many companies engage in the practice of sending holiday greetings (print or increasingly emails) to colleagues, clients, partners and prospects.

But what does your holiday card really say about your brand?

After all, it’s not just a card – it’s a communication vehicle.

And whether you intend it to or not, chances are the greeting you send and even how you send it are communicating more about your brand than you originally intended.

One year, while I was working at Virgin management, we decided to do electronic cards (in line with our desire to do right by the planet when we can) and to re-direct the saved postage as a donation to the Branson School of Economics in South Africa.

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We included a bit of a cheeky message on the front of the card (again on brand) but overall we felt the best way to celebrate the real spirit of the holidays during what was a particularly difficult year for many, was to help others.

I am not saying this is the right solution for everyone.  I’m just illustrating that we spent some time thinking about our messaging and treated the card as a piece of branded communication – which ultimately it is.

Here are two other examples of cards that made a brand impression:

The first was from a friend of mine who runs a PR and Communications company called Fraiche.

Her brand is all about fresh ideas and approaches. Her primary color on her website and marketing materials is a bright and vibrant green – a color which supports her can-do personality and that of her company.

Her holiday card really supported her brand point of view.

This Holiday, Go on a Brand Safari!

Here’s a way to make tedious holiday shopping a bit more palatable.

While your trudging around the malls and stores this holiday season,  don’t look it as a chore, look at it as a brand adventure.

Or at very least… brand research.

Notice which shops have the longest lines, what branded shopping bags are people walking around with.

Ask the shop keepers about the hottest items.

And make a mental note of what people are wearing.

Take your flip cam or a notebook and write it down.

Think about t what trends are revealed by these facts.

And then reflect on how these can be applied to your brand.

5 Creative Gifts that Won’t Break the Bank

Present

Holidays, and especially holiday gift giving, can be extremely taxing.

But this year why not take a step back and create something special?

Save the physically draining desperate crawl around the mall.

Pour a  glass of wine or a mug of cocoa and spend a bit more mental energy dreaming up something unique.

You might find it doesn’t take a lot more time, and it definitely won’t cost more.

Plus I always find I get more joy in giving (and getting) creative gifts.

Here are some ideas:

5 Creative Gift Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

1. Write a Special Letter.
Think about what you love and admire about someone and put it down in writing.

Not to be too morbid, but think about what you would say about them if they were gone and write it now to share with them while they can really appreciate it.