7 Holiday Trends to Help Your Creative Shine This Season

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From August to November, advertisers in every industry are ramping up for the holidays, preparing to reach shoppers and spenders in what is predicted to be a $1.3 trillion retail season. On top of retail there are holiday opportunities for entertainment, travel, automotive, even food and beverage brands, and it all starts with the creative.

This season we’ll see marketers and customers alike leaning toward unique holiday color palettes, comforting and nostalgic visuals, subtle animations, and more. Read on for 7 key holiday creative trends.

1. Making New Traditions

Photo © Beatriz Perez Moya

Millennial audiences – which account for 34% of holiday shoppers – are now in their 20s and mid to late-30s. Although we often hear how millennials are taking longer to have kids, nearly half of the generation has at least one child and millennial parents account for 82% of births each year. As young parents start their own families, they’re looking for ways to reinvent the holiday season, connecting the traditions they grew up with and celebrations that are unique to their new family unit.

See More: 10 Social Ad Strategies for Thanksgiving Weekend

Brands will provide value to this audience by helping them make new traditions, relating relevant products to family experiences. A food brand can share the season’s top recipe and encourage families to bake together on the Winter Solstice. Your ecommerce brand might offer DIY guides for seasonal crafts and games, bringing families closer and associating your brand with holiday happiness. Or if you’re an entertainment brand, you can showcase the joy that comes with annual Thanksgiving day movies, family binge-watching, or a local winter attraction.

Ideas for new holiday experiences are invaluable to the millennial audience, and they’ll appreciate the brands that help shape their family traditions.

2. Redefining ‘Christmas Colors’

Red and green will always dominate the holiday season, but new palettes are emerging, bringing variety and a modern touch to holiday advertising. In past years brands have branched out while keeping it safe with gold, white, and blue. This year we expect to see colors like lavender, dusky orange, and even bright pink find their way into holiday campaigns.

Try these 3 non-traditional palettes to help your marketing creative stand out this season:

This palette maintains the warm / cool balance present in the traditional red and green holiday color scheme, trading bright red for two magenta hues and opting for pale sage green, green-gray, and a navy shade in place of forest green. Use this color scheme if your brand is playful and modern, or if you’re trying to reach young families who celebrate in unique, non-traditional ways.

Here we pair bright, energetic greens with cream and gray hues – reminiscent of clouded, snowy landscapes – with a hint of purple to draw the eye. This palette is best for brands who want to help their audiences feel calm and relaxed this holiday season. Trade your traditional tranquil blues for a color scheme that offers a bit more cozy, holiday feel.

Embrace the rustic familiarity of winter with these neutral hues, all of which can be found in nature. This color scheme will evoke feelings of home and family, reminding audiences about what really matters this holiday. Use this palette to connect with customers who will be traveling to see family this holiday and with older generations looking to feel nostalgic.

3. Vertical Video

It’s no surprise that vertical video, which continues to grow in popularity and adoption, is a top creative trend this holiday season. Early research shows that vertical video provides a 3x return for advertisers over horizontal video, making it a key format for marketers all year round. Brands will reinvent their holiday campaigns this season, shooting mobile-first vertical video or transforming TV creative to feel more native on social platforms.

Less than 30% of people turn their phone to view horizontal video ads, and when they do, they only watch 14% of the ad. Give your creative its best chance to succeed this holiday season with vertical video and formats that are optimized with mobile in mind. Vertical video opens up a whole new range of possibilities, giving your team new real estate to play with and the opportunity to be clever and creative with your marketing. There’s no better time to start testing than with your upcoming holiday campaigns.

4. Down Home Charm

Glitz and glamour give way this holiday season to authentic, rustic images featuring cozy sweaters, pine cones, and quirky hot cocoa mugs. Leave the glitter behind in favor of muted images that make your customers feel comfortable and nostalgic.

This trend comes in part from millennial audiences and their desire for diverse, non-traditional holiday creative. Rather than choosing secular imagery or struggling to represent every holiday at once, brands should focus on what the season means to consumers. This means showcasing themes like love, family, and comfort that resonate no matter a customer’s age, location, or religion.

Rustic images are also aspirational for consumers, giving them a feeling of wanderlust. They want to be that comfortable. They want to eat that delicious sugar cookie. They want to explore that snowy forest wonderland. It’s especially valuable for ecommerce, retail, and travel brands to evoke that sense of desire from consumers this holiday season.

5. Unusual Shades of Red & Green

Even as marketers explore new holiday color palettes, red and green continue to reign supreme. This year we’ll see the usual red and green shades give way to a selection of new hues, from a dark burgundy red to a bright, springtime green inspired by Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery. Transform your creative by playing with different hues in the traditional holiday color palette, bringing in darker red and greens for a more comforting feel, or brighter versions for a more playful, youthful take. Pair them with neutral grays and tans for a holiday pop in your creative.

6. Subtle Animations

Sometimes photos feel too rigid, while videos take too much time to consume. Advertisers have found a unique middle-ground this holiday season with gifs, cinemagraphs, and looping videos, bringing a hint of movement to the social ad experience.

Use a subtle, eye-catching animation – like this festive, slightly strange email campaign Virgin Hotels debuted last year – to add some quirk to your holiday campaigns. This style has long been used in email, but this year we’ll see subtle animations helping advertisers stand out in shoppers’ social feeds too.

7. Platform-Specific Creative

Authenticity continues to be one of the top trends in marketing creative, and with that comes the need for brands to be authentic on every platform. As marketers scale their campaigns this holiday season, we’ll see creative that looks a little bit different from one platform to the next.

In a recent Adaptly campaign, our retail advertisers found that a little bit of overlay is best on Facebook, but it doesn’t work as well on Instagram. They were also better off using one image on Instagram, while multiple images – like in the Carousel or Canvas ad formats – were best for Facebook. Knowing what works on each platform, and adapting your creative accordingly, is the best way to engage and delight your customers this holiday.

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A version of this article first appeared on Internet Retailer.