How brands are unleashing their inner dragons this festive season

Space Doctors' Maya Madhusoodan and Greenie Lei explore how brands in Asia are transcending conventional approaches, blending symbolism, culture, and thoughtful design to stand out this festive season.

Photo: All images courtesy of Space Doctors.
Photo: All images courtesy of Space Doctors.

Every year, Lunar New Year offers a fresh energy and festive opportunity for brands to connect with people who celebrate. The theme is automatically the zodiac of the year. And this year is no different, with the dragon being woven into design, communication, retail activation, digital, pretty much everywhere. With numerous dragons out there, all treated differently via design, creative styling, and materials, it can be quite challenging to stand out. With familiarity and ubiquity, being distinct is challenging. So, how does one make their dragon soar above the rest?

We looked at several brands, their products and campaigns, and noticed patterns ranging from the conventional to modern, minimalist styles. Often, the dragon is just there, layered over the product or ad in a cursory way. The ones that stood out were the more thoughtful, symbolic, yet implicit representations of the dragon embedded in its wide, nuanced, layered context. These intentional approaches seamlessly integrate the dragon into the broader narrative that feels shared with culture and the brand. Here are a few examples, decoded, to demonstrate how the ubiquitous dragon can connect better with implicit multi-sensory associations.

Marni

Marni's Lunar New Year collection revolves around "Marni Marni Hong"—a playful wordplay on the well-known Chinese ‘magic spell’ phrase "Ma Mi Ma Mi Hong." The dragon design exudes a youthful, playful, and quirky charm, seamlessly integrated into the series. The campaign features traditional activities, including displaying the Fu character, showcasing sugar figurines, and paper-cut window flowers with the dragon motif. The cohesive narrative, from wordplay to set design, reflects a cheerful, playful, and joyous festive season in line with Marni's casual, retro spirit. The dragon element not only adds but also elevates Marni's distinctive identity.

Beauty dragons