And a partridge in a pear tree

The power of repetition in branding
Jamie Thorp
by Jamie Thorp

Some brands have great festive campaigns. They turn heads, dominate newsfeeds, and bag awards in the new year.

But some brands own Christmas.

Every year we count down to the John Lewis ad, track the route of the Coca Cola Christmas truck, and enthral our friends with our music habits as summarised by Spotify Wrapped.

It doesn’t have to be substantially different from the year before (monster -> dragon -> alien, @John Lewis), or any different at all really, but we still go crazy for it.

Through repetition and consistency, these brands have managed to form new traditions around Christmas.

But it’s not just Christmas. You can make a tradition at any time of the year.

The Apple Conference. The Red Bull Soapbox Race. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. When things repeat, we anticipate them, hype them up. They build a following, and whether they go well or terribly or are painfully average, people talk about them.

Repetition is also a powerful tool for a copywriter. Look at these lines:

He waits, that’s what he does. He waits. (Guinness)

It keeps going… and going… and going. (Energizer)

Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline.

When things repeat, it makes pathways light up in our brains. Words stick. Ideas stick.

This is what makes something travel and endure, live in the collective memory and become part of a culture.

It’s the work of brands now, but it’s nothing new.

Just take the Twelve Days of Christmas. We’ve been singing it for 200 years – and no one’s ever forgotten what type of bird it is in the pear tree.

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