Jesamine Harvey • Nov 21 • 5 minutes

4 brands making Christmas meaningful

Christmas is around the corner, and along with it, the familiar “all together” message that circulates each year. The message, whilst a cheery notion, is frequently met with the suspicion of “brand box-ticking” if companies aren’t willing to be consistent with their community-focused messages all year round. 

In this post we’ll shine a spotlight on the brands that are championing authentic messages of community, inclusivity, and support. We’ll also be examining how these companies each create an impactful brand experience for Christmas and all year-round.

1. The gift of upcycling – Dunelm

Building on the successes of their ‘Delivering Joy’ Christmas campaign last year, this year Dunelm aims to beat their record. Their ambitious goal is to donate over 25,000 gifts to 175 care homes and community centres.

The most inspiring of their ideas, though, comes in the form of the 2021 “Dunelves” campaign: A movement that aligns community and charity through creating a story-led brand experience. 

The Dunelves notion is promoted in a fairytale fashion, asking customers to donate any unwanted or excess Christmas decorations, so that they can be subsequently up-cycled by the Dunelves. Any donated decor will then decorate the halls of previously bare care homes and community centres across the UK.

All homes deserve to be merry. 

Dunelm’s new initiative expands and enhances their brand’s purpose of “helping everyone to create a home they love”, by including care homes and refuges; the frequently overlooked homes for many during the Christmas season. 

Despite being one of the largest homeware retailers in the UK in last month’s ad campaign, Dunelm showed aligned themselves alongside local communities.

At the end of the ad, they directed their audience to find their local Dunelm community Facebook group. Supporting each store and local communities creates a modest, community-focused brand perception.

Can you build and bring together a community with your brand?

Is it through a Facebook group? Through an online app? Perhaps it’s an in-person meeting (those are rare nowadays!) of people with shared interests that correlate to the nature of your product? 

2. The gift of sharing – OLIO

So it’s almost Christmas, a time where some people’s circumstances mean that they may not be able to afford things. That’s where OLIO comes in.

OLIO is a mobile sharing app which connects communities and local businesses together so surplus food can be shared, and not thrown away.

Most recently, OLIO introduced a new borrowing function to their sharing app in the lead up to Christmas. This has enabled customers to lend and borrow from their trusted neighbours. It’s a system heavily reliant on trust and emphasises the sense of local community.

A brand boldly recognising that waste isn’t just what ends up in landfill.

In their brand’s messaging, rather than just asking customers outright to buy less, OLIO asks people to instead borrow more, which reinforces their brand strapline, “Share more. Waste less”.

OLIO’s recent ‘borrow’ function curbs any extra spending that people can do during this overindulgent season. In opposition to the surge of consumerism around Christmas-time, OLIO sets themselves apart as a countercultural and bold brand.

3. The gift of communication – Jumbo

Statistics have previously shown that loneliness at Christmas is more likely to affect the older generation (65+) with more than half a million in the UK and Ireland expecting to feel lonely this Christmas.

Dutch supermarket Jumbo recognised the physical and cultural position of supermarkets as an important place for people to connect, and as a way of identifying and reducing loneliness. That’s why in 2019 they launched the “Chatter Checkout.”

Chatter Checkout provides an alternative checkout counter for their stores. A counter created specifically for people not in a rush, and those who would like to chat.

Why was Jumbo’s solution so innovative when it’s just what every other supermarket has done in the past? 

Advancements in modern technology have led many supermarkets to attempt to create a better customer experience. However, this experience holds speed and privacy at the heart, which has resulted in the birth of self-checkouts. 

But in steering towards this impersonal, digital process, supermarkets have further alienated a group of people. A group that benefits from the exact opposite. 

This is where Jumbo cleverly adapted their customer and brand experience. 

By utilising what they already had (a supermarket and cashier) and tweaking a seemingly small part of the shopping process, Jumbo carved out a great brand experience for all the customers who want the very opposite of a self checkout.

How can you apply these principles to your brand?

Think about something you already have, an established element of your brand. Now imagine changing an element of the customer experience and what that would do.

What element could I shift around if I wanted to be viewed as more caring? and what would happen? More creative? More professional? 

What steps can you take to alter your brand’s customer experience?  

4. The gift of wellness – Headspace

Here’s a harrowing figure for you: Globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds have a mental disorder.

That’s likely why Headspace, an online mindfulness platform ahead of Christmas time, has begun offering its meditation services free of charge for teens (13-18) in the U.S.

Contrasting many other brands at this time of year, instead of further pushing the commercial aspects of their product, Headspace has instead considered its young (and likely low or non-income) market when making their services free. 

With teen mental health at an all-time low, what could be a more meaningful gift from a wellness brand this Christmas?

Making their services free for teens is a bold brand move that could initially appear counterintuitive to selling their product. However, in doing this, Headspace has created a strong, long-term connection between teen users and their brand.

Those who decide to subscribe for free in their early teens may later opt to pay for the app’s services. This cyclical process contributes to long-term success of the company, whilst still changing lives. Now that’s a positive brand move all around.

What about you and your brand? 

Can you give away anything for free that will help people and get them involved early, so you have future ambassadors for your brand?

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