Ho ho ho... A Very [Insert franchise name here] Christmas

First, I'd just like to wish a very happy and peaceful Christmas to both my readers!

Apparently, 'tis the season to send badly designed Christmas cards to people that you don't know very well, in the hope of generating a bit of oul' business. For, as it was once told to me by a wizened old marketing professional -you can send all the flyers you want during the course of a year but people will only remember the Christmas card.

I agree -but only if the card is worth looking at. I just received one from the garage that sold me my second-hand car seven years ago [as I have done every year since]. Although it doesn't take the gong for worst card design, it comes eye-wateringly close. There is no excuse for sending abysmal cards unless you're a graphic designer in a corduroy jacket who could say with a knowing smile, 'This card is an ironic statement'.

Seems to me that all such cards generate is indifference, or worse; enmity. If the person to whom a card is sent is not a personal friend- then the card must have some other obvious merit. It should be very funny or very arresting in some other way. You can't get good results from a picture lifted from a royalty-free image CD or one that has a company logo plastered garishly across the cover illustration. I venture to suggest that cards' inner messages should also be hand-written, perhaps with a wry humorous note [since there may be no personal relationship with the receiver].

And... since companies habitually decide to include Christmas in their marketing strategies; they shouldn't leave such important design choices to busy office managers or outsource the task of design to printers [printers and design are like builders and varnish; they don't mix]. There are plenty of great illustrators and graphic designers -who are born for such work and can advise on approach. There are also excellent cards made by some of the charities, like Oxfam or The Irish Cancer Society. So, there's plenty of choice -all well worth the expense and which could start generating a bit of warmth in these cold-hearted times.

Perhaps as image-makers, we're not doing enough to convince people in the general business community of the value of design?

I'd wecome your thoughts on the subject. Have you received any cards this year that provoked a wince? Clean your stomach contents from your shoes and tell me about it.


Steve Simpson said...

had written out a nice long reply but it was eaten by bloglins, nasty little fellas.

Have to agree with you, nothing like a well crafted Christmas card. Unfortunately I have seen some awful cards from graphic designers also, think they need to engage more with illustrators on something I believe to be home turf! Long live the christmas illustrator

Gerard Tannam said...

I think your wizened old marketing professional bears all the hallmarks (ouch) of a greeting-card salesman.

I'm not sure that Christmas is the best time to send a greeting card from your business (but absolutely agree that if you must, then have it properly designed). There's a real danger that it simply gets lost in the rush.

Instead, why not appropriate another holiday or event that more closely matches your positioning (say, Shrove Tuesday if you're flippin' marvellous or Midsummer if you're a dream to work with) and allows you to own that date in your customer's mind?

You can realistically expect to be the only card (or other offering) coming through the letterbox at that time of year and can offer ample proof of the fresh thinking that you (and only you) provide.

Kevo said...

I take your point about using other festivals and showing fresh thinking. At the same time, though, Christmas IS a special time -quite apart from any religious aspect, it's a time that most remember as comfortable, family oriented and one of generosity. It's no wonder that many businesses opt for Christmas cards. To have such crassly sales driven devices foisted upon you is like having a boorish guest turn up at your dinner party! With a little consideration, a card can re-establish a little of those warm connections that other festive occasions can't reach.

Mind you, in France it's customary to send new year's cards...and they usually even have snow at Christmas.