Overcoming the obligated good deeds holiday aka Valentine’s Day

8 bit heart

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. Even when I’ve been in relationships I have never been thrilled by this holiday. It’s always some sort of forced obligation of one partner to buy their significant other flowers (usually, a dozen roses), spend a ton of money at a fancy restaurant, and pick out a romantic card. Oh yeah, you have to get gifts for each other as well.

Wait a second? Isn’t this a holiday about love? Not so, according to the origins of this supposed day of love. According to NPR, this holiday started in ancient Rome as the festival of Lupercalia, a fertility holiday. Men would sacrifice animals, and then proceed to beat willing women with animal hides, who believed that the beatings would make them fertile. On February 14th, the Romans then executed two people named Valentine, who where then honored by the Catholic Church as Saints and making the day Saint Valentine’s Day a celebration of their sacrifice. As the church did with other holidays, they eventually combined both holidays into Valentine’s Day so the pagan rituals were removed. Shakespare also promoted the holiday in a romantic sense in his plays in A Midsummer Nights’ Dream and Hamlet.

Nowadays, it has morphed into a holiday of cards, chocolates, expensive dinners and forced obligations. Even if a couple chooses to not celebrate it, there is still outside pressure around them to partake in this holiday in the form of advertising, friends, and family.

Why should a person be forced, obligated to buy products and services, on a particular day just because society pushes it? Wouldn’t it be more meaningful if out of the blue your partner surprised you with flowers, a nice dinner, and lovely card, rather than feeling like you are forced to because of a particular day of the year? I would choose the latter.

As marketers and designers, we know what reasons compel people to buy products or experiences. It is our responsibility to choose to create solutions that compel people to treat those they love out of just being kind, not because of a holiday. And we need to offer excellent products and services that wow our customers. Customers should think of our brand instantly when they think of their special someone and how to do something nice for them. Because we aim to create authentic solutions that make their lives better, that wow them and the person they are treating.

As a designer, how do you overcome this obligated good deeds holiday aka Valentine’s Day? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Create solutions that stand out more than anyone else. I suggest design thinking principles as a start.
  2. Find where your brand is trusted and that your brand matters in the interactions you are seeking. Validated learning is a good starting point.
  3. Offer products or services that create connection. We are living in the economy of connection, the most valuable commodity in today’s world.

Now, if the brand you work for offers products or services for Valentine’s Day, you can apply the learning tools above to creating meaningful experiences. Rather than offering something with no real or very little value to just make a quick buck to inflate sales, offer something that really delights your customers. That’s how brands are sustainable and are remembered in the information overload of today’s world.

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