Black Friday sales started early this season, but companies that have announced Thanksgiving Day closures may have achieved more branding success.
Transactions are important. So is customer trust and loyalty. It’s possible to compete for sales and send meaningful messages.
The holiday season is a time when families gather and many people reflect on their lives. It is the rarest of moments during the year when companies can tap into a deeper conversation with consumers.
Tapping into deeper conversations requires more than sending bottles of wine or marking down prices. It demands a more authentic expression of the brand and its promise. Possibilities include:
- Sharing the voluntary good works the company and its employees have done.
- Touting the achievements and contributions of company employees.
- Showing how a product or service delivers public benefit as well as consumer value.
Care needs to be taken to avoid coming off as self-aggrandizing or schmaltzy. The idea is to create an affinity, not a brag sheet.
Subaru provides a good example. The car company routinely runs TV ads emphasizing how its vehicles reliably protect family members and young drivers in car accidents. During the holiday season, Subaru is focusing on its pilot project with the National Park Service to eliminate trash in national treasures such as Yosemite, Grand Teton and Denali.
The partnership isn’t new. It began in 2015 when Subaru said it would share its knowledge of zero landfall practices with the National Park Service. The pilot project made a lot of sense. The National Park Services is forced to dispose of 100 million pounds of trash annually, and that doesn’t count the garbage left behind at park concessions. Subaru is credited with establishing the first U.S. automotive assembly plant in Indiana that has been designated as a zero landfill site.
The National Parks Conservation Association, also part of the partnership, hopes to use the Subaru-backed pilot project as a way to educate park visitors to their environmental footprint and provide a basis for expanding the program to other parks. The 832-acre site also has been designated as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
The scale of this partnership should be dissuade companies for looking for opportunities to build consumer trust and community goodwill. There is no better time to create a sense of community for a brand than the holiday season.
Gary Conkling is president and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at email@example.com and you can follow him on Twitter at@GaryConkling.