Christmas is a time full of traditions, habits, ceremonies, and rituals. It’s the time of year that triggers several food and drink related cravings such as Cadbury’s Selection box, mulled wine, hot apple cider, mince pies; the list goes on. In Ireland we have created our own set of traditions and rituals associated with Christmas, not least of those being the ‘12 Pubs’ Christmas jumper wearing gangs of over-zealous 20 somethings, aka the bartenders nightmare.


Some brands however, have invented their own Christmas traditions which positions them as top of mind during a time when everyone is baying for the consumers attention. In terms of branding, a ritual is something that associates a brand with a set behaviour.


Think Corona and lime, Kit Kats and Breaks, Summer and ice-cream (or cider for adults). In terms of specific branding rituals, stout, particularly Guinness, is strongly associated with the two part pour (well, in Ireland anyway. The amount of strokes suffered by Irishmen abroad being served an all-in-one pour is frightening).


The presentation of shamrock to the sitting American president is fantastic branding ritual for Ireland, positioning the country front and centre internationally on each March 17th and reaffirming the importance of the day with each passing year. The ritual itself and its association grows stronger over time when done correctly and rituals also add value to what is on offer.


Three brands in Cork and internationally that have successfully created or creating Christmas rituals are:


  1. John Lewis

Man on the moon advert

Perhaps not the best year for John Lewis a la their customary Christmas advert, after some contentious criticism from famous illustrator Chris Riddell. Nonetheless, John Lewis’ yearly Christmas ad is something that is expected and greatly anticipated more and more as time goes on. Usually pulling on the heartstrings with narratives like their 2015 Man on the Moon video or 2014’s Monty the Penguin John Lewis has successfully created a Christmas ritual that positions them top of mind as people in the UK go about their Christmas shopping.

John Lewis Man on the Moon advert


  1. Brown Thomas

A national tradition or ritual in Ireland is the unveiling of the Brown Thomas window display. Pegged by many to signify the beginning of the festive season, the window wonderland is heralded by many as a staple in the Winter calendar. WIth this annual ritual BT positions themselves as the industry leader.

Brown Thomas Christmas Window
Brown Thomas Cork, Christmas 2017


  1. Annual Christmas Day Swim

A Christmas Day tradition or ritual in many families and communities is the Christmas day swim. Charities greatly benefit from this nippy endeavour as people gather funds to donate to their favourite cause in exchange for taking a dip in the frosty Atlantic.


Christmas Day Swim
photo from

So, how does a brand or small business go about creating their own Christmas ritual. Have a look at these ritual attributes to craft your own:


  1. It should continue or capitalise on a behaviour that already exists-the ritual is above the people
  2. It needs to be repeatable
  3. It needs to be directly associated with the brand
  4. It makes senses to people
  5. Make it easy
  6. It has to be easily shareable


Most importantly it MUST be something that excites and delights people, so that it’s instantly recognisable and makes for great conversation.


Do you have any brand rituals for your business? What rituals do you admire nationally and internationally?