Could Santa Be The World’s Strongest Brand?
Santa Claus is the envy of brand managers everywhere. His image is instantly recognizable across countries and cultures. In cold months he is the world’s most sought after spokesperson, selling everything from soft drinks to Hollywood films to electric shavers. His December calendar includes more appearances than Warren Buffet has made in his entire career.
Everyone knows what Santa looks like and stands for. And that is a triumph of marketing.
As brand managers, we strive to have that kind of universal brand recognition, positive emotional connection and steadfast consistency.
How did Santa get the red suit we all know and love?
Santa Claus’ global brand has come a long way since the third century, when St. Nicholas was the patron saint of sailors and was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a small cherub. Santa, like all businesses, needed defining before his personal brand would capture the attention and love of consumers: consistency.
We can thank Coca Cola for that.
Santa as we know him came to life in 1931, when their marketing masters put their stamp on his image. Noticing that their soda was seen as a warm weather drink, Coca-Cola launched an ad campaign with the slogan “Thirst Knows No Season,” which showed Santa popping open a bottle. Crucially, Coca-Cola was the first major company to feature Santa dressed in a red suit. Before that, Santa Claus typically wore green.
Coca-Cola changed Santa’s fashion sense, and his personal brand, forever.
They took an iconic figure and molded him to represent their brand — by promoting their own brand color. It remains one of the greatest marketing coups in history.
Today, Santa appears on everything from cookies to nail art to logos. He has featured in over 2,000 movies. This weekend, 25,000 New Yorkers will dress up in full head to toe Santa suits for SantaCon, a parade-slash-bar-crawl to raise money for the city’s food banks.
Santa also draws record numbers of consumers in the holiday months, helping to invigorate an economy that has been stuck in a slow-growth rut. “Santa’s real gift is to the economy,” says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. This year, “Americans are shopping until they are tired. They are not shopping until they drop. But that’s okay. Santa is giving America a bump that it badly needs.”
The only thing we’d change about Santa’s brand!
Get that man on social media! Santa doesn’t have a verified Twitter account or an official Facebook presence, and you won’t find him on LinkedIn. We think his Pinterest page could be particularly interesting, especially with images like these:
As you are building and nurturing your own brand, take some tips from the man in the red suit.
Stand out. Be consistent. Create an emotional connection. Remain visible to your target audience. Wear red. This Christmas season, lead like the best CEO in the biz: Santa Claus.