Every creative who has lasted at least a year in this business knows the holiday dread. Sometimes it starts in October, but more often, late November. Your account team gives you a forced smile and utters the following words:

“So, we need to do a holiday message for [INSERT CLIENT NAME].”

On the surface, this doesn’t seem that hard, does it? But for creatives, it always is. We are taught to craft work that stands out. We try to zig when the industry zags. We live to change the conversation.

And the typical holiday message is, literally, the opposite of all that. It tells use to say exactly what everyone else on Earth is saying, when everyone is saying it. And for the love of Santa, do NOT change the conversation. Visually, the only direction is making sure “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

But once the initial dread wears off and the actual work begins, you still have to find a way to make a holiday message that doesn’t seem generic. You have to make one that is relevant. So, don’t get lost in the onslaught of holiday noise. Instead, focus on the one thing that makes this particular holiday message your own: Stick to your brand.

It’s never enough to do a nice holiday design, write “Happy Holidays from us” and slap your logo on it. Instead, think of what your brand means. What do you do? What do you stand for? How does that relate to the holiday? Is there a clever way to connect the two?

If you have a current ad campaign, you could extend it to fit the holiday message. If you have a brand voice, ask yourself how your brand would say “enjoy this holiday?” Would it be funny? No-nonsense? Formal? Irreverent? Clever? No matter what the answer is, that’s your answer.

I know this sounds simple, but it really is. If the holidays teach us anything, it’s that authenticity matters more than anything. Just like giving a perfect holiday gift — no one wants something generic. They want something that matters to them and something that would only come from you.

So, don’t fear the holiday message. See it as a break from communicating exclusively about products and services. It’s an opportunity for your brand to really have a personality and no ulterior motive — except for being truly grateful for every person who cares enough to stay on your mailing list.