Americans – both young and old – just can’t get enough of Halloween. Beginning at a young age, October marks the start of the holiday season, bringing out the kid in all of us. From pumpkin-spiced everything to all the spooky decorations and festive costumes, it’s impossible to not get into the spirit of Halloween. But where did this ghostly holiday even begin, and what does it have to do with brand communication?
The Seriously Ancient Origins of Halloween
Let’s dive into the history of Halloween first.
Halloween was created from Samhain, an ancient harvest festival that took place at the end of the Celtic year. Centuries ago, this festival was a way to mark the changing of seasons from summer to winter. During these first years of Samhain, the spirits of the dead were believed to return on October 31st, damaging the crops and playing evil tricks on those who were still living.
In the eighth century, the holiday was made a bit more official when Pope Gregory III declared November 1 as the day to honor all saints – or ‘All Saints Day’. The night before Samhain soon evolved, becoming known as All Hallows Eve and, today, Halloween. While our ancestors’ experience with Halloween was more of a mystical event, our Halloween is a conglomeration of Samhain, All Saints Day, and All Hallow’s Eve. Today, the spooky holiday is all about getting dressed up as your favorite superhero, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating.
Different Cultures, Different Celebrations
While the Celts are credited with ‘starting’ Halloween, many other cultures all over the world have had their own relationship with October 31st for as far back as we can trace. You may be wondering where the costume element of Halloween started, and thankfully we have an answer! During Samhain, celebrators would wear animal skins during large bonfire celebrations, and others would dress up as saints or angels for All Saints Day festivities. While times have certainly changed, this tradition has stayed the same.
Halloween was first introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s when Irish and English immigrants brought their traditions along with them. Yep, you have culture-growing immigrants to thank for the chance to dress up as Lady Gaga or your favorite SNL skit.
While America’s Halloween has roots in Irish and English immigrants, things look quite a bit different today than they did in the 1800s. For example, the first “trick-or-treaters” definitely weren’t adorable children dressed to the nines. In fact, they were Medieval English people who believed in the practice of “souling,” which occurred when the lower class would beg for sweet breads, offering to pray for others’ souls in return. The version of trick-or-treating we all know and love didn’t start until around the 1930s.
Using Halloween for Brand Communication
OK, now that we understand where, exactly, Halloween got its start, let’s look at what it means for your business. For businesses, Halloween marks the start of the holiday season – a.k.a. marketing game-time. It is estimated that Americans spend more than $9 billion on Halloween, which is just one reason to respect the holiday, even if it isn’t necessarily your cup of tea, or witches brew, rather. With so many opportunities to build brand awareness with good brand communication and show customers your fun side, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. This is where a smart digital marketing company comes in handy.
There are so many great ways to let your personality show while engaging existing and potential customers at the same time. Heck, so many people get into the spirit of Halloween that supporting a brand that does the same is a win-win for everyone. Whether you are doing some internal training or looking to engage customers will staying one step ahead of your competitors, here are some great tips for marketing your brand communication around Halloween:
- Host a contest (online or in-store) – Engagement is key when it comes to communicating your brand. A festive way to do just that is by hosting a contest of some sort. From having people guess the number of candy corns in a jar (tantalizing them with a gift card or similar prize) to putting on a pumpkin carving contest, have some fun with it!
- Get creative with hashtags – Social media and hashtags give you a great opportunity to get creative. The power of words is a big one, and a dedicated hashtag will be a good way for customers to get involved.
- Collaborate with other businesses – Supporting local businesses starts from the top. There are tons of opportunities to collaborate and team up with other businesses for special Halloween events that will showcase you both.
- Get in the spirit of Halloween – Whether you have your employees dress up, you decorate your business, or you make some fun Halloween posts on social media, getting in the spirit of Halloween is one of the best ways to market your brand.
Have fun with this and don’t overthink it! As we learned, Halloween is all about coming together and celebrating the change of seasons, with a little ghoulish fun sprinkled in here and there.