Brand AwarenessWhat is St. Patrick’s Day all about?

“Well,” you say, “it celebrates the patron saint of Ireland, who rid the island of snakes and introduced Catholicism to the people.”

Ok, what’s St. Patrick’s Day really all about? It is essentially a global celebration of Irish-ness, isn’t it? Everyone wears green, goes to a parade and has a big party. Traditions may differ on either side of the Atlantic, but the premise is the same.

How has the day that celebrates the patron saint of an island with a population of around 4.5 million people become such a global event? As much as St. Patrick might be a grand excuse for a party, he isn’t really the reason it’s held every year (but he is a great mascot). People all over the world aren’t breaking out the party poppers for the patron saint of a small island hanging on to the fringes of Europe. The real reason is more to with good brand awareness than anything else. When you have a good product, you need to sell it. And that’s what St. Patrick’s Day and Irish-ness is; one big brand successfully marketed to the rest of the world.

The Diaspora

There are Irish people all over the world. Irish bars exist in every city, Gaelic football and hurling teams are now all over the world. For whatever reason (mass emigration mainly), there are Irish people in every nook and cranny you can find on this planet. When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day they are all ready-made brand ambassadors. They will celebrate wherever they are, highlighting just how much fun the Irish are and make more people aware of St. Patrick’s Day.

Unfortunately, not every brand has ambassadors all over the world that will spread their message and tell everyone how great their product is. This doesn’t mean you don’t have connections, however.

Irish people in the rest of the world wouldn’t necessarily be bothered celebrating St. Patrick’s Day if they weren’t made to be a part of the day and encouraged to engage with the celebration. If you don’t engage your customers, they won’t feel any connection with your product which means they will never become brand ambassadors, with this ultimately affecting your brand awareness.

If you make your customers feel like they have a stake in your brand they will be more inclined to champion it. Don’t ignore the strength of word-of-mouth and the power your customers can wield to boost your brand awareness.

Get Recognised

There is so much iconic Irish imagery that people instantly recognise things like rolling green fields, a pint of Guinness or a bodhrán with Ireland. All of this comes together on St. Patrick’s Day to create an orgy of Irish-ness the likes of which people will never see again (until next year). The colour green may as well just be copyrighted by Ireland. No other country could use it to such great effect. Every Patrick’s Day cities around the world illuminate famous landmarks with green light. Can you imagine the Eiffel Tower being draped in an English flag on St. George’s Day?

The Irish are masters at taking advantage of their popularity and good reputation, combining it with recognisable imagery and using it to create global goodwill.

There is no reason businesses cannot do the same.

Having recognisable branding is a good start; you have to be able to set yourself apart from your competitors. But what makes you different, not just in what you sell, but how you present yourself? You can’t just assume that people will naturally gravitate towards you on the strength of a good product alone. Sure, Irish people are a lot of fun and celebrate their patron saint’s day every year, but people don’t join in the party on the strength of that alone. You have to have something else to offer. For Ireland its music, beautiful landscapes, parades and Guinness. For your brand this may be a strong marketing campaign, eye-catching imagery, creative content and Guinness.

There are lessons to be learned from St. Patrick and the Irish; the creators of what may just be the greatest brand awareness campaign of all time.

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