Ah, Christmas, the season that starts ever earlier! As the final firework leaves the launch tube, the commercial arm of the Xmas kicks into gear, showering us with adverts, tinsel and Michael Bublé.
It’s December now though, so is it OK to discuss a few things festive? Best close the tab now if not, because I’m going to discuss a “Tale of two Christmas flyers”.
However long we think the run-up to Christmas has extended, there are some folks, for example, those in the consumer products field, for whom Christmas commands their time for much, much longer.
Unsurprisingly churches also have to keep one eye on Christmas from pretty early in the year, planning a multitude of events and services, often alongside the local community or schools.
For a number of years now I’ve been designing various things for a couple of churches (one I attend, the other I used to); this year I created promotional Christmas flyers for them both.
They’ve both been printed and I’ve got them in my hands. There’s something striking when you have them together, just how different they are, despite both being the same format, printed on A6 double-sided 450gsm stock. It’s also despite the core theology of the two churches being roughly similar (I guess the shorthand would be “reformed evangelical” or those who were wondering) and despite the ultimate goal, getting people to church at Christmas, being the same.
As I sat considering this, I realised it was a good lesson in getting to know your client and ensuring design solutions meet their needs.
St. Alkmund’s Duffield
During 2017 I’ve worked with St Alkmund’s (and sister church St. Paul’s) to develop a new website and brand for the two congregations. Things are nearly wrapped up (and I look forward to sharing that soon) and we developed a promotional flyer for this years 2017 Christmas events.
St Alkmund’s is a church that can date itself back to the Doomsday book, the existing church is believed to have been started by the Normans in the 12th century. It serves a large mostly well-off residential village to the north of Derby.
It’s a very pretty, very traditional looking building and always enjoys busy Christmas events attended by people throughout the village with some seven special events, from Christingles to Carols, on top of their regular advent Sunday services.
The village is also kind of typical, middle class and pretty, boasting some of Derbyshire’s best schools (one even ranks exceedingly highly in the national league tables), packed with well-educated residents, families and comfortably off retirees.
Christmas is always well attended, links to the local schools make promoting traditional children’s services easy, but the Church didn’t want to rest on their laurels and were keen to promote the dates for the 2017 season. Although the church community is modern in outlook, the wider village looks tend to prefer comfortable, traditional Christmas celebrations with carols, choirs and candles.
I reflected this in the flyers with a stylish script announcing “Christmas” on a teal blue background, taken from the newly developed branding colourway. It’s a sophisticated and stylish design aimed to appeal to the people of the village. It speaks of a traditional Christmas with well-known songs and crib services.
Christ Church Derby
In contrast, the congregation of 7-year-old Christ Church Derby meets in a former scaffolding warehouse in the centre of Derby.
There’s very little traditional, beyond theology, at the church. With an age range somewhat younger than your typical church, lost of young families and students, they have an outlook to match.
Christmas services do have a sprinkling of tradition, songs you’ll recognise, mince pies and a little nativity scene, but there’s plenty unusual too, no church organ or choir for example.
The surrounding community is far more mixed than Duffield’s, with blocks of flats and streets of Victorian terrace houses making up the bulk of the residential stock. It’s a typical city community, more diverse and mixed than a village or town with generally modestly incomes as well as pockets of poverty.
For the Christ Church Derby flyers, I aimed for something much more modern and developed a design that picked up on a recent cultural event, the release of Netflix “Stranger Things”.
I was mulling over the design as the program was released at the end of October, and the wordplay of “Stranger” and “Manger” struck me as interesting. I then needed to persuade the client that billing the Christmas event at the church as “Manger Things” was a good idea!
Fortunately, they loved it, so I recreated the Stranger Things title text using the font Benguiat adding the various effects and shadows until I’d got something along the lines of the original titles. The finishing touch was to reference the large red “2” in the second season’s titles with a Christmas star shape behind the text.
It’s a much more modern, of the moment design, created to appeal to culturally aware city dwellers.
The two designs then are leagues apart in style, targetting two very different audiences. I don’t think you could simply swap the two styles over.
Using the traditional St Alkmund’s flyer for Christ Church Derby would I believe create a false impression that the services are really traditional Christmas, visitors may be disappointed that this wasn’t quite what they got.
Promoting Duffield with the Manger Things flyer would maybe alienate traditional Christmas attendees, confusing the message that at St Alkmund’s they can expect a recognisable Christmas service.
Two very different flyers then, both attempting to do the same thing, encourage people to come to church at Christmas, both great fun to work on, and both being distributed to local communities as I type.
Finally, a little extra for "Manger Things"…