Here’s an interesting article in the New York Times: On the Web, Workshops That Help Shoppers Create One-of-a-Kind Gifts.
Sites like Zazzle.com, Blurb.com and Blue Nile can help you create everything from personalized stamps with your family’s photo, to a recipe book with pictures and handwritten recipes, to a custom designed diamond ring.
Unlike past customizable products (t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads), advances in manufacturing have significantly increased the quality, range and degree of customization of products.
Have you heard about this newest Christmas sensation and budding tradition?
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
I’m a marketer so of course I want people to buy things.
Like (Virgin) mobile phones and domestic and trans-Atlantic flights for example.
But as we approach another “Black Friday” holiday shopping season kickoff…
Part of me can’t help but think – do we really need all this stuff that’s being advertised?
You may recall a very unfortunate incident when a Wal-Mart employee was actually trampled to death at Wal-Mart during this day.
What could have been so crucial to buy that worked people into such a mob frenzy?
For the last year I’ve been taking a new approach to spending and loving it.
I call it the Joy of Less. I wrote about it last summer.
It started with the onset of the Recession. Like many people, with uncertainty looming, I felt a need to save more and to be more careful with my spending.
But what started as an act of deprivation soon turned in to a source of joy.