How to Use Humor in Branding

Brands that use humor in marketing.
Brands with a sense of humor.

Even though the quality of products and services is important, using humor in branding and the way it makes your audience feel about your brand is even more important.

This article was contributed by Berta Melder.


Humor in Branding

1. Why you should use humor in branding

2. How to use humor in branding

3. Examples of using humor in branding

A successful brand needs to put a lot of effort into proper positioning, establishing a positive emotional connection with consumers.

And this can be done through many different marketing initiatives like advertising or content marketing strategy.

According to research, brands that make the customer experience their main priority, demonstrate much better results than their competitors.

Humor helps bridge the gap between brands and audiences.

The stronger the connection between a brand and its audience, the more likely the latter will become loyal customers or make their first purchase.

And we all know that a sense of humor is the key to make that strong connection.

We love people who are funny and don’t take themselves too seriously and the same applies to brand.

After all, a brand is not your logo or visual identity, but it’s something intangible – it’s a person’s gut feeling about your service or product.

Volvo – “Volvo Dynamic Steering”

One of the most effective ways to make your target audience engaged and to connect with them emotionally is the use of humor.

Some brands choose the most obvious jokes or create funny catchphrases.

For example, everyone remembers Budweiser’s “Wussup” or Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?”

Humor makes brands more approachable.

Even luxury brands that used to be as serious as possible now realize that a little bit of humor can make them more authentic.


Why You Should Use Humor in Branding

The age of social media introduced new standards of branding and marketing.

CEOs of big corporations become accessible figures, and authentic brand images gain popularity online.

At the same time, the internet increased the competition so it gets harder for brands to achieve engagement.

Thus, brands that want to attract attention and retain their customers experiment with new approaches and understand the growing importance of their brand personality.

Dollar Shave Club – “Our Blades Are F**king Great”

Although expressing your brand personality doesn’t look difficult, many businesses still think that consumers will take them seriously only if they look serious.

The truth is that customer engagement can grow only if you try a somewhat relaxed tone.

The main advantage of humor is that it adds a human touch to your brand.

It makes your brand more recognizable, enabling you to build human connections.

“Serious” brands and their marketing messages start to blend together, making authentic brands stand out from the crowd.

According to statistics, 47% of consumers prefer humorous advertisements, and there are many examples of such preferences.

For instance, Dollar Shave Club wouldn’t be able to achieve a $1 billion acquisition by just providing high-quality products.

Impersonation of Colonel Sanders led to a 31% increase in sales and boosted KFC brand recognition.

Informality positively impacts creativity.

There is so much content on the internet that it becomes impossible to attract attention by doing what everyone else does.

Modern brands need to be creative, which is almost impossible when choosing traditional approaches.

If you try humor, you’ll be able to expand the scope of your creativity, using new types of content and addressing new topics or looking at the old topics from a new perspective.

Old Spice – “Smell like a man, man”

The use of humor gives you more flexibility when it comes to content production.

Emotions are powerful, in fact, they have a stronger impact on purchase decisions than criticism.

Although many people think that we make most of our decisions rationally, reality proves the opposite.

The traditional business language is neutral and dry, which is not the best choice if you want to engage your audience.

Of course, there is a variety of emotions, and all of them cause different effects.

Humor stands out from other emotions for its ability to bring people together and to establish a connection.

For example, if you see somebody for the first time in your life, the best way to break awkward silence is to tell a joke.

The same applies to brands, as well.

Humor also allows you to deal with negativity.

What you should do when consumers criticize your brand?

You may just ignore them and quickly lose popularity.

You might also acknowledge your failures, which is a good solution by itself.

However, in this case, you may sound insincere or melodramatic.

Another solution is to not only acknowledge the issue but also add some humor, demonstrating your self-criticism.


How to Use Humor in Branding

1. Mind your audience

First, we suggest that you analyze your audience and use such insights to find the right words.

The type of audience directly impacts the range of the topics available.

For instance, if your company works in the financial industry, we recommend that you don’t joke about losing money.

Don’t forget that the main point of humor is to bring people together.

If you want to use a joke, consider it in the context of your brand values and your target audience.

Yes, if you want to be funny, you should play by the rules.

2. Follow the rules

Every comedian knows how important it is to choose appropriate jokes, taking into account the specifics of the audience.

The situation gets even more difficult when you have to use humor for your brand because the stakes are too high.

There are certain areas you should try to avoid.

Don’t joke about religion, politics, sexuality, or gender.

These are controversial topics, and you don’t want your brand to be known for controversies.

Avoid everything that seems risky, and you will never have to deal with costly court proceedings.

3. Use topical jokes

Of course, there are also topical jokes that can attract an even wider audience.

But first and foremost:

Joke about something related to your industry, demonstrating the knowledge of the subject.

For example, these are jokes about March Madness, Super Bowl, or Valentine’s Day.

Some events and holidays steal everyone’s attention, and you don’t want to stay aside from a topic everyone is talking about.

4. Be informed

If you want your jokes to reach the audience and to cause the necessary reaction, you should stay up-to-date about everything that’s going on in your industry.

Good humor is always based on observations.

In addition, if you keep track of everything that your audience experiences on a daily basis, you’ll never lack ideas, and funny topics will appear out of nowhere.

5. Stay engaged

Every time people leave their comments, you can use it as an opportunity to develop good relationships with them.

Obviously, a good idea is to read all your social media notifications.

Keep an eye on mentions of your brand on the internet.

And keeping track of negative reactions is even more important.

If you don’t address the response of people who didn’t appreciate your joke, the situation can quickly escalate and go out of control.

6. Be careful

Attention is good but not all kinds of attention are equally good for your business.

Moreover, not all the people who react to your ads will react positively.

For example, every restaurant knows how powerful food critics are.

Respect the fact that consumers always have a choice.

They can always choose from among dozens of options unless you offer something completely unique.

Sometimes, even one tweet or review can make companies change their marketing strategy, so you should always keep in mind the possible long-term effects of your ads and your jokes, in particular.

7. Don’t try too hard

You shouldn’t joke in every post on social media.

Such an approach may work for MoonPie but let’s be honest, not every brand can crack a joke in each and every tweet.

Don’t turn into a comedian.

MoonPie certainly has an advantage, since the very nature of the product suggests that the content shouldn’t be too serious.

8. Align jokes with your personality

There are many brands of beer, and Miller Light could just deliver the most obvious message: people drink beer to have a good time.

Instead, the brand focuses on a specific audience, emphasizing the fact that it’s a light beer.

Understand what your brand stands for.

There are many people who are concerned about their body weight, and Miller Light tells them exactly what they want to know.

However, Budweiser combines the concept of light beer with humor and entertainment, being more memorable.

9. Use pain points

We don’t recommend that you joke about things that make your audience feel sad.

However, all your customers have certain needs that your brand aims to fulfill.

Marketers call such needs pain points.

Use pain points to come up with funny solutions.

For example, any restaurant can joke about people feeling hungry.

Obviously, such an approach may not work in certain industries.

The more serious the need, the more accurate you should be.


Examples of using humor in branding

1. Volvo

“The Epic Split” has quickly gone viral and inspired numerous memes.

The effect of this campaign gets even stronger if we remember that Volvo has always been a deadly serious brand that emphasized reliability and classic design solutions.


2. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is a gold standard of humorous branding.

Just a few years ago, this company had a dozen employees, competing with strong, well-established brands.

The only solution that allowed this company to withstand the competition with Gillette, Bic, and other brands, is its story that has been quickly shared on social media.

This company couldn’t afford expensive video production, so they just made a simple and hilarious video where their CEO described their blades as “f***ing great.”

This ad is outrageous, and that’s what makes it so good.


3. Old Spice

“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” is another legendary ad.

It was created in 2010, and now it has over 53 million views.

Instead of targeting men, Old Spice decided to think about women who buy their products for their husbands and boyfriends.

With time, the brand realized that it needs to target men as well and adjusted its campaign to appeal to everyone.

Instead of focusing on a hard sell, the brand interacts with the audience, entertains it, and takes brand recognition to a new level.

If you check out the Old Spice Twitter page, you’ll also find it quite entertaining and funny.


4. Charmin

Even though bathroom humor is not the most original way to make your audience smile, it’s the best solution for a company that sells toilet paper.

Thanks to its sassy approach, Charmin managed to stand out in the overpopulated market.

The brand used humor to build its authenticity, turning an unoriginal and awkward topic into a big advantage.


5. Clorox

The idea of “life’s bleachable moments” perfectly fits the nature of the brand and also makes you smile.

Clorox focused on relatable situations that are familiar to everyone.

On the company’s website, you can also find a page where consumers share their stories about the “bleachable moments.”


Conclusion

Humor is a great opportunity to make the best out of your brand strategy.

Although the use of humor in branding implies certain challenges and limitations, it allows you to add a human touch to your brand, getting closer to your audience and making your brand recognizable.

Humor appeals to your audience’s emotions

It can also address negative feedback.

To use humor successfully, you need to stay up-to-date about everything that happens in your industry .

Also make sure that your jokes organically complement your brand’s personality.


What do you think about using humor in branding and marketing?

Do you know about any other great examples of how brands use humor?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.