In today’s world, any kid with a smartphone can access the internet and find out — to sheer outrage or otherwise — that Santa Claus isn’t real. It’s no longer a secret let alone a mystery that our beloved chimney-hopping, reindeer-trotting Turkish friend is no more than an embodiment of the Christmas spirit that for centuries have enamored children and adults alike.
But his essence and persona never go out of fashion. Santa Claus is one of the most recognizable “brands” in the world, mainly because it was built around a likeable, semi-fictional character and, ahem, the grandest season of the year.
Then again, Santa is quite the hype man himself. The things he does to maintain his lovable reputation are nothing short of marketing savvy, and it all boils down to a few brilliant strategies:
He keeps a list.
Like all sound businesses, Santa knows his target audience. He keeps all the records organized inside an enormous “database” of customer profiles and addresses, and he makes sure everything is updated before he heads out into the cold night and hops on his sleigh. Every night is a long journey, and he knows that all his efforts would just go to waste without a reliable list to work on.
He takes “wishes” into account.
Santa doesn’t just dish out random gifts; he makes an effort to find out what his customers actually want. He encourages people to contemplate on what would make them happy, write it on a piece of paper and stick it inside a mounted sock. Santa then acknowledges these wishes and never ignores them. That way, he can lessen the chances of customers getting dissatisfied. Does that ring a bell, marketers?
He rewards good behavior.
Naturally, Santa would also want to know if his customers deserve to receive gifts. Just as how businesses monitor buyer behavior through statistics, lead generation and other online activities, Santa also has his own method of finding out whether people have been “naughty or nice”.
He has his own unique style.
Santa may be known by several other aliases (Saint Nicholas, Father Time, Kris Kringle), but his identity is unmistakable; who else dons a red coat, white-cuffed red trousers, a black leather belt, a pair of black boots and sporadically yells “ho ho ho” for no apparent reason? Hence, that this widely-accepted image that practically anyone in the English-speaking world can recognize was in fact popularized by a global brand, is not really surprising.
He always delivers.
Of course, a strong brand is nothing if it doesn’t live up to expectations. Santa is well aware that his customers are anxiously waiting to receive their presents, and if ever he fails to (literally) deliver, the effects may be permanent in the hearts and souls of millions of children — well, at least until they’re old enough to find out it was all a gag.