For many, the holidays are most notably a time to celebrate family traditions and faith and enjoy food and festivities with friends and loved ones. For businesses everywhere, one of the most enduring holiday traditions is the giving and receiving of holiday cards.
Sending cards to your clients and professional partners has become a way to connect with those we come in contact with in our professional lives–to renew old acquaintances, to affirm new partnerships and to make a lasting positive impression.
The annual ritual can be a chore for some companies–and an exercise in repetition and tiresome obligation for others. How do you keep your company’s holiday card traditions fresh and fun, while avoiding the pitfalls of seasonal sameness and uninspired holiday drudgery that can make what should be a positive experience into something that feels more like–well…work?
Here are a few holiday card tips we’ve come up with at Identity over the years:
Keep the Faith
While there is a wide range of opinions about how prominent the role of faith and religious traditions should be in our seasonal celebrations, it’s a good idea to play it safe. No matter what your feelings on the matter may be, it’s probably not a great idea to risk offending someone who doesn’t share your faith or subscribe to the same set of beliefs. That doesn’t mean you need to be politically correct or that your card has to be empty of any and all sentiment, but it pays to be thoughtful and respectful.
Think Outside the (Festively Wrapped) Box
When it comes to holiday cards, creativity goes a long way and can be expressed in many ways – in the design of the card (from the way it folds, to the images and ideas it presents) and in the messaging within the card. A traditional card works great, but so do e-cards, a holiday-themed e-blast or a memory stick with digital files attached to a candy cane. The possibilities are virtually endless, as long as it’s conceived and created with thought and care.
Keep in mind that businesses are receiving many cards and gifts this time of year, and you want yours to stand out from the crowd. Imagine your card sitting on a crowded table of holiday deliveries: does it stand out? If the answer is no, consider going back to the drawing board.
The Best Card is…No Card?
Think outside the box–literally. Perhaps your card can accompany a thoughtful gift, or even a series of gifts. Sometimes the best card might be no card at all. There’s more than one way to send holiday greetings. For example, here at Identity we had so much fun one year having our clients’ and professional partners’ logos hand painted onto a series of small pumpkins. During the painting process, the pumpkins were on display in our office. The finished products were hand-delivered to their final destinations, where they made a lasting impact throughout much of the holiday season.
Enjoy the Process
Deciding on the design and content of the annual holiday card can be a tricky process–especially if you work in a creative office, or there are a range of different opinions and perspectives on the holiday card committee. Don’t run from this creative tension – use it to your advantage. Embrace differences of opinion and enjoy the process of designing and conceiving a memorable and heartfelt holiday message.
Depending on the circumstances, designing, stuffing and mailing out the annual holiday cards can take up a lot of time and company resources. Despite that, try to avoid getting stuck in an uninspired rut or simply going through the motions. If you and your team have fun with it and treat it like a creative project for a client, and if you are able to produce something fun and creative and inspired, your clients and professional partners will be responsive.
Stay Off Message
Integrating professional messaging into your holiday cards is a tricky exercise. While your card should absolutely reflect your professional values and your organizational personality, the last thing you want to do is turn a heartfelt holiday greeting into a thinly veiled ad or tacky corporate pitch. Ideally you want to stay on message, without being actively promotional or soliciting business. Subtlety goes a long way here.
If you are a graphic design firm, there’s no need to call attention to your work beyond simply designing a visually dynamic and creative card. Your efforts will speak for themselves. If your company motto fits into the theme of the card, great! But you generally want to think mistletoe, not mission statement.
Finally, take the time to personally sign your cards. A thoughtful and personal touch can go a very long way.