Monday, November 30, 2015
Charlie Stephan, Vice President / Creative Director

Six months into my Swanson Russell career I got what I thought at the time to be the assignment of a lifetime: a holiday card! For Swanson Russell!

Being new, I didn’t have many other responsibilities, and so I of course wrote a 20-page book (literally) about how to survive winter in the Midwest. For some reason, it was actually approved, printed, and distibuted to clients and prospects. A real Christmas miracle.

Fast forward nine years, and the annual holiday card assignment is…something of a chore. Don’t get me wrong, we all love the holidays, but the assignment always comes at a busy time of year and with the direction to, essentially, “Do something fun about the holidays.” How many Santa puns can you really make?

So with a heavy sigh, I sat down to help with this year’s iteration. And almost immediately, co-owner Brian Boesche said, “You know, we used to just donate money to charity in people’s names for Christmas, and people loved it.”

Well then. I think we’re done here.

Why haven’t we done that every year? It’s simple, it’s smart, it says a little about who we are, and it leaves a more lasting impact than 20-page books and Santa puns.

We even added a little something to the idea: instead of donating to one non-profit, we donated to six different ones, each specializing in one of our areas of focus.

A little copywriting and some terrific design work later, and we have ourselves a Christmas card that people actually wanted to make — and that hopefully people will actually be glad to receive. 

So what did we learn? A couple of old lessons: Sometimes the simplest solution is the best, and sometimes the old way can be the right way again.