MAKE IT POP!: Think of It as Your Holiday Email Sleeve

For the next two months, both Starbucks’ coffee cups and most online retail email creative will share a similar shade of red. And as Starbucks introduces this year’s holiday-themed cup sleeve, so a handful of retailers wrap their emails with holiday-themed navigation. This year Target,, Apple and REI all rolled out their holiday navs during the first week of November. Check out these before and after email navigation captures:

Target, Nov. 4
Target's standard nav
Target's holiday nav, Nov. 5
Amazon's standard nav
Amazon's holiday nav

Apple, Nov. 7
Apple's standard nav
Apple's holiday nav

REI, Nov. 9
REI's standard nav
REI's holiday nav


(1) Show a Little Bit of Spirit
I know how much we all love to get in there and go crazy with the décor, but don’t get so heavy with your holiday nav that it visually overpowers your main message body. Bring in a touch of color or a playful graphic element to say: “holiday is here,” but not “and here, and here, and here …” All of the navs featured above do a good job keeping it light.

(2) Stay Non-Denominational
Red and light blue seem to be creative favorites this season; green is just too darn Christmassy, isn’t it? Apple and Amazon bring in just the right amount of generic holiday feeling with ribbon and trees; Target’s holly is super-cute but excludes folks who don’t celebrate on December 25.

(3) Add a Gift-Specific Menu Item
Be relevant and accessible to gift givers:, REI and Target all added a gifting menu item to their standard navigation. REI gets bonus points by using red to “make it pop”.

(4) Plan for the Un-plan-able
Anyone who’s lived through even one holiday season in retail email creative knows: despite the best-laid plans, things get cah-razy. and REI get all “Art of War” on that action with flexible HTML text promotional spaces at the upper right of their email creative. Include a spot that’s both front-and-center and easy-to-update to accommodate all those last-minute markdown and rush shipping upgrade messages.

Good luck!
Lisa Harmon

–>Read other Make it Pop! posts.