Countdown to Christmas: Day 18 featuring Santa

There’s only a few days left of my Countdown to Christmas series, which means the big day is getting ever nearer. Every day this month I’ve been highlighting a story from an internal communicator to share their thoughts, with the final one going live on Christmas Eve.

Today I’m featuring Santa, well a brand book about him, written by the smart people at Quietroom @Quietroomtweets. They describe themselves as a team of imaginative people who are changing the way businesses communicate.

Like many other communicators, I was tickled by their festive offering, so I asked Quietroom to share the story behind the online sensation.

What’s your brand book like? Is it effective? If you have a story to share about yours and the thinking behind it, do get in touch or tweet me @allthingsIC. I’m always on the lookout for guest writers, and you could see your name here in 2014.

Taking a left-brain sleigh ride with Quietroom’s *Santa* Brand Book

Post crash, even the biggest organisations are having to re-establish their credibility. Santa is no exception. So he asked Quietroom to help him reassert his dominance in the burgeoning delivery market.

We may have gone a bit too far…

santa_Our *Santa* brand book plays with a classic comedy idea: bringing together the dreamer and the cynic, and letting them fight it out. It’s a conflict that’s driven comedies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Steptoe and Son.

We took the most loved childhood dream – Santa – and introduced him to the most cynical branding team we could imagine.

A few days ago, we hit 750,000 views online. Hundreds of people have tweeted and emailed us, appalled and delighted by what they’ve read. Industry veterans have shared their war stories. Someone on Twitter told us that they’ve already used the book to teach a class in marketing.

At Quietroom, we write, we define how organisations use words and we train people to use words powerfully. The fun we’ve had with the *Santa* brand is our inner elf coming out for Christmas. Normally, we help people communicate in a way that’s clear, vivid and real:

  • Clear – so people understand it, and know what to do to make it happen
  • Vivid – so it sticks in people’s minds, and they share stories about the brand
  • Real – so people believe what it says, and know how it relates to them.

santa_brandA brand book that’s clear, vivid and real is a great tool. Done well, it helps everyone within the company – from the chief executive to the frontline staff – build stronger relationships with each other and with customers.

It helps them make decisions about who they want to be and what they want to do, whether it’s deciding which business opportunities to pursue or what to say at the end of a phone call.

A bad brand book is a hoop to jump through.

We often talk to clients about the ladder of abstraction. It’s a model that helps us think about how the words we use resonate with people. Imagine that language is a ladder. At the top of the ladder are big ideas, like ‘good will to all men’.

At the bottom are practical things that you can do to support those big ideas, like buying charity Christmas cards.

Effective writing moves up and down the ladder. Often a brand book doesn’t work because it sits for too long on one rung of the ladder. It might be sitting at the top, talking a lot about ‘vision’, but not helping people understand what they need to do or why it matters.

The upper third of the ladder is tricky too. That’s where ‘initiatives’ live, and abstract nouns like ‘accountability’ — things that you can’t hold or warm to. Those are the kinds of brand books that antagonise people, or get thrown into a drawer. That’s how Santa can become ‘the industry standard for child-centric gift delivery solutions’ instead of a jolly fat man who makes us all happy.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Post author: Quietroom

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