No Generic Holiday Greetings Here! How to Master Fearless Branding.
Remember 2011 when all the talk was about the "War on Christmas?"
While using the word "war," when not discussing military operations, is nearly always hyperbole, there was a brouhaha about places of businesses banning their employees from saying "Merry Christmas" and forcing everyone to instead say "Happy Holidays." Prior to much ado being made of employee greetings and salutations, most businesses left it up to their employees to choose their own expressions. Afterward, most businesses came down on one side or the other, either encouraging workers to say "Happy Chanukah" and "Merry Christmas" or to ban any mention of religion, whatsoever and go with the generic "Happy Holidays."
Customer experience should not be by accident.
Honestly, a customer or client's total experience includes how they are greeted and treated right up to goodbye... and it matters. Whether you're conducting business online or in person, it's smart to have policies that address employee language and communications and they should cover appropriate holiday protocol. Close attention is paid to environmental factors, such as store colors, signage, cleanliness, displays, employee uniforms, or website, colors, advertising, etc. If the look and feel you've been carefully cultivating don't match the spoken or displayed words and attitude, then it's a branding mismatch that will make people feel like something is a bit... off.
That all sounds carefully planned, so where does the fearless part come in?
Here's the crux of branding and it holds just as true for season's greetings as for any other part of your marketing. It's pretty simple, really. Be yourself. Decide who you are and be that. You don't have to, nor could you even if you tried, please everyone. Who you are, and your business as an extension of yourself, will attract some people and repel others; that's simply how it works. Own it. Enjoy it. Revel in it!
Here's a secret: If you choose to play it safe and appeal to a wide, generic audience, then people won't feel a strong connection with your brand. Period. Generic inspires no one.
Let people in... and they may surprise you with their enthusiasm and loyalty.
Where you draw the line is entirely up to you... and you don't have to open up all at once. A little bit of openness, transparency, authenticity, vulnerability or whatever you've got- goes a long way. I'm fairly certain that my sense of humor comes across in my snarky writing style, but I can definitely do better about expressing how very much I care about my clients success in my writing. I am certain that people who have met me face to face know anything and everything that they ever wanted to know (and possibly a bit more)about me, my life, my passions, and my "whys" but I don't really "put it all out there" much here on my blog. I apologize for that and promise to do better.
Following my own advice, here is a bit of me for you...
When I say to you, "Merry Christmas!" I am expressing MY joy at the upcoming holiday, that I cherish, and am inviting you to participate in that joy. If you are not Christian, then you are welcome to politely say, "Thank you" or "Happy Holidays" or whatever comes to mind, but please don't be offended that I'm sharing a bit of myself with you. I'm not asking you to convert; I'm simply expressing my wish that you have a Merry Christmas- this does not require you to adopt my beliefs. I have often celebrated Chanukah, joyfully and thankfully, with my Jewish friends when invited to do so. I don't care if they wish me a Happy Christmas or Happy Chanukah- I'm just glad to be remembered and included. I don't expect an avowed atheist to wish me a Merry Christmas, but please don't be a downer for those of us who are celebrating. Keep in mind also, that when I wish you a Merry Christmas, and I will, that I am expressing my appreciation of you as a human being and telling you that I love you. You read that right. We are commanded to "love thy neighbor as thyself" and that means everyone. No matter what.
That is all! So, Merry Christmas, from me to you. I wish you a joyous holiday season.smile emoticon