Christmas: The Evolution of a Mega Brand

Who ever would’ve imagined that the birth of Christ would become one of the biggest global brandable domain names to hit the planet this side of Disney? What’s that you say? Christmas isn’t a brand? Think again.

According to the definition of branding is, “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol, or design, that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”

But can the word “Christmas” be considered a product? Hmm. Let’s deconstruct…

Step 1: Christ is Born


All this is great, but could someone just get us a crib?

Once Mary gave birth, word got out and people from all over came to see the baby in the manger hailed as the Boy King. No, wait. Wasn’t King Tut the Boy King? I might be getting my names confused, but if so it’s not the first time monikers of unrelated things overlapped. Take Delta Airlines and Delta Faucets. No one seems to get an MD-80 and a bathroom sink fixture mixed up. However, you really don’t want the hassle of forced differentiation every time your product name appears in an ad.

First rule of proper branding: Pick a unique name that won’t be confused with anything else.

Now where was I? Oh, yes. Gifts on Christ’s birthday.


Hmm. They’re not jumping up and down about the myrrh

It seems the three wise men started the gift exchange trend when they showed up unannounced, but then redeemed themselves when they offered the new family parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. No, no, that’s not right. Shoot, what did they bring again? Oh yeah. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What the heck do you do with myrrh, anyway? I’m sure Jesus’s mom, Mary, was all like, “Myrrh? Seriously, you guys need to get your heads out of the business of being overly smart. Don’t you think we could’ve used some diapers or baby clothes instead?”

Second rule of proper branding: Know your clientele.

Step 2: Christmas Catches On

Due to an untimely death at a young age, Christ swiftly moved into martyrdom and as such his birthday became a bigger deal every year. So much so that people celebrated his birth by taking the day off and feasting with friends. But calling this new holiday Christ’s Birthday Celebration was a bit longwinded. So a short version morphed into Christ Masse (which literally means a celebration of Christ) and eventually gave way to the even shorter Christmas.

Third rule of proper branding: Pick a name that compliments your product, yet is easy to remember.

Step 3: The Victorians Up Their Game

Dickens Christmas

Those Victorians really knew how to work a retail angle

For the first two millennium or so Christmas remained a pretty low-key holiday. But then along came the Victorian age, which rang in the industrial revolution. At that time some savvy entrepreneurs figured out that Christmas was ripe for capitalization, what with it being a holiday of good will and all.

Suddenly shopkeepers advertised their wares as the tools of the trade for Christmas (food, ale, decorations, clothes, etc.). And then somebody remembered that when you get right down to it we’re talking about a birthday party for Christ, so why not exchange gifts? And if you’re going to do that, might we suggest a new corset for Aunt May or a new rolling pin for Mom? Or anything, for that matter, from the Sears and Roebuck catalog?

Fourth rule of proper branding: If possible, align your brand with existing, time-honored events.

Step 4: The Birth of Baby Brands

Christmas Black Friday


Today, thanks to big box stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Target, Christmas is a retail mega event that has spawned several child brands. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday, are all special shopping days on which consumers can score big savings just as the most expensive season of the year starts. None of those special retail days would exist without Christmas.

So is Christmas a product? Well, sort of, in the sense that just the mention of Christmas generates a lot of revenue. But does that really make Christmas a brand? Technically, no. Nobody owns Christmas as a trade name, therefore no one controls how it’s used. But are businesses using Christmas as a product to make money? You bet your tinsel they are.

Like it or not, Christmas appears to be the brand that keeps on giving.