A holiday season #throwback: Rebranding Santa

This tells you just about everything you need to know about the *Santa* brand book.
This tells you just about everything you need to know about the *Santa* brand book. (Click to enlarge.)

Note: Two years ago, the folks at branding firm Quietroom came up with something so ingenious that it deserves to be re-shared, year after year, during the holiday season — just like that “Yes, Virginia” letter or the incessant re-runs of those Christmas Vacation or A Christmas Story movies.

I’m doing my part to keep the spirit alive in an era of crass commercialism by republishing a post that originally ran on this blog in December 2013. It’s also a cheap and easy way to repurpose content.
* * *

Even the most established global brands need an occasional refresh. So in the spirit of the season, the UK-based branding firm Quietroom took it upon themselves to give one of the most venerable and well-known brands in the world a new approach.

*Santa* is a Concept, not an Idea: The cover of a new brand identity book for one of the world's most established brands.
*Santa* is a Concept, not an idea: The cover of a new brand identity book for one of the world’s most established brands.

The result is the *Santa* Brand Book, a brand identity manual for that brand we know as Santa Claus, St. Nick, Kris Kringle, the Jolly Old Elf, etc. (Hmm. With so many variants of the brand name, perhaps this brand refresh came none too soon.)

The online manual is a tongue-in-cheek introduction to *Santa* — a brand identity which subtly differs from the more traditional Santa. (The bookend asterisks are symbolic reminders to customers of “a snowflake alighting on the eyelash of a fawn” and “the polar star, and hence the birth of dreams.”)

It’s also a clever look at how branding agencies and in-house brand managers work to flesh out the intangibles of our respective organizations. It offers guidance on a range of brand issues, including:

  • Logo usage. The *Santa* logo is never to be “altered, adjusted, changed, adapted, modified, varied, reformed, revamped, refined, reorientated, transmuted, metamorphosised, customised or tailored in any way.” (Note to self: Adapt this language to my university’s brand identity guidelines.)
  • Color palette. Red and white are the official colors. But for guidance on which specific red and white to use, the book provides a handy Pantone reference chart.
  • The brand “house” or how the brand is build from the ground up. Similar to the brand pillar concept used by many organizations, the *Santa* brand house is built from the ground up. It is constructed on “a foundation of deceit, which is sunk deep within a bedrock of gullibility.”
  • Brand language, complete with admonitions to use approved vocabulary that is “convivial, festivious and jollificatory” when describing the brand. For example, *Santa* is “round and jolly,” not “morbidly obese,” and “fond of children” rather than “a bit creepy.”

While this brand book is a satirical look at the branding business, it also offers some valuable insight into the work of brand management. They begin by looking at the idea of Santa Claus as a metaphor for branding, and there is a lot of truth to that line of thinking.

There’s also a lot of truth to this phrase from the manual:

A brand is a sack on a sleigh of belief

Thank you, people of Quietroom, for giving brand managers the world over this little gift at Christmastime.

P.S. – Thanks also to Robert French for sharing the brand book via Twitter.

Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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