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Rethinking Tradition for an Unconventional Year

October 30, 2020


Rethinking Tradition for an Unconventional Year

We’ve been running through different scenarios for months, creating new strategies. Then we discard them as we watch the situation unfold. That’s about all we can do right now. We were told we should expect a second wave or maybe the second wave is already here (?). Although most of us were hopeful it wouldn’t happen, we went ahead and made plans just in case.

If we thought lockdowns were difficult during the spring and summer, we’re going to face a whole new set of challenges as we head through fall and winter. Many people have already been worrying about Halloween. Trick-or-treating and trips to the pumpkin patch may not seem like a great idea right now.

Then there are other, bigger celebrations. How will we spend Thanksgiving if we can’t get the family together? What’s going to happen to holiday parties and New Year’s celebrations if we can’t have groups of more than 10 people?

Every individual will have to answer those questions for themselves. As Marketers, we’re in a position to help them discover new ideas and reinvent traditions.

Thinking Outside Tradition - help them reinvent - a new way to innovate

Tradition is probably the last thing we think of when we say we’re going to “reinvent” something. Tradition is tradition because it doesn’t change!

Yet, in a year like this, almost everything we consider “normal” has gone by the wayside. Traditions with big family gatherings or parties are likely also going to need an overhaul.

We already saw this happen a little bit with spring holidays. In North America, though, we tend to put much more emphasis on our fall and winter celebrations. It makes sense. The harvest is all done, the weather is cold, and the nights are long. Getting together is a way to make cold, dark nights seem brighter.

How can we help our customers rethink their traditions so they can still celebrate? The focus here is likely on making “new traditions” or reworking existing ones to better fit the circumstances.

The family feast, for example, might become a more intimate gathering of a few people. Maybe presents are opened over Zoom calls with loved ones who shipped gifts by mail. Maybe holiday parties go virtual. Instead of the traditional indoor venue, you get the team to go ice skating or cross-country skiing.

Emphasizing Relationships - your customer needs to feel they matter

Of course, this all comes back to something our brands should be striving for anyway—a focus on relationships. That’s what a lot of our traditions focus on at this time of year. It’s a season for family and friends, for being kind to strangers and being thankful and generous.

Our brands can certainly do all that! We can help our customers stay in touch with each other, while also offering them new virtual experiences. We can help them create those “new traditions,” by showcasing the ideas ourselves. We can show what we’re doing to help inspire our customers.

We can also emphasize relationships in our community. Maybe this is how we kick off a new tradition. Donating proceeds to a local shelter, food bank, or even a program like Meals on Wheels could help our brands, our customers, and our communities feel closer together, even if we do have to stay six feet apart.

Staying True to Our Brands - do what you say...

If we’ve learned anything this year, it should hopefully be that our actions always speak louder. Customers see social media posts and even well-meaning emails as attempts to sell.

To avoid the accusation of hollow sentiment, we need to take action. And the actions we take need to resonate with our brands. So, when a supermarket donates to a food bank or a restaurant prepares holiday meals for seniors, we’re putting our brand values into action.

If all we do is send out another update email telling customers we’re in this together, our customers will likely dismiss us. And rightfully so!

If what we do and what we say lines up with our brand, then there’s a good chance we canmake this a tradition. Don’t think of what you’re doing this year as a one-off, and we’ll get back to what we were doing next year. Think of it, instead, as a chance to create something new—something that you, your customers, and your community would want to keep going for years to come.

This year is going to be different, but we can help our customers make the best of it. New and reinvented traditions can help them make the season as bright as it would be otherwise.

And this all starts with getting back to the roots of our brands, our higher purposes. When we’re in tune with that, we’ll be able to inspire our customers and connect with them on a deeper level.

So start with the why!


Meet Margo…brand visioning & marketing

Margo Jay is a Master Brand Strategist with a career leading globally recognized brands; developing and launching a proven model that maximizes competitive sales potential and consumer appeal. She has built the model to help companies of all sizes. Her Client roster includes entrepreneurs through to Fortune 100 brands: NHL teams, Global QSR brands, CPG brands, Broadcast brands, Agencies, Non Profit brands, Hard goods…this model and process provides competitive advantage in any category.

Complete clarity. Ownable distinct selling proposition. Shared values. Brand Clarity. Brand Focus. Brand Inspiration. Brand Obsession. Unlocking brand potential is what she does.

And it all starts with why!

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