Is Santa Claus the most recognizable brand in the world? Absolutely. He is instantly identifiable by his shape (portly!), his face (those rosy cheeks!), his red and white outfit, even his laugh! Companies today would mortgage their last sugarplum to achieve the kind of brand recognition Santa has. And much like Cher or Bono, he can go by his first name to be recognized.

The Coca-Cola Company helped popularize Santa's modern incarnation with an advertising campaign in the 1930s. American artist Haddon Sundblom created Coke's version of Santa, inspired by Clement Clark Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas." (A right jolly old elf.) That version of Santa even made it onto U.S. postage stamps last year, adorning millions of Christmas cards!

But Santa isn't just recognizable. He's memorable. He strikes that chord of nostalgia that resonates within us. Santa hits us right in the emotional breadbasket, taking us back to Kodachrome-colored times in footy pajamas.

Good brand strategists know that recognition and emotional connection, combined with persistent consistency, is a win.

So, if you want your brand to avoid the Naughty List this year, here are some tips from Santa.

  • Stand out from the crowd (A flashy red and white suit can't hurt.)
  • Consistency is key-brand manuals exist for a reason.
  • Have a story to tell. And tell it well!
  • Get a good team. Mrs. Claus, the elves, and the reindeer all share the load.
  • Be jolly.