How to Add Humour and Comedy to Your Brand
People love humour and comedy. But what is humour? Well, humour is the attempt to provoke laughter or amusement. In marketing, humour and comedy are great ways to engage and grow an audience.
Adding humour and comedy to your brand isn’t easy, but you can do it. If it works, it has tremendous upsides. But you have to be creative and think outside the box. You also need to zero in on your brand voice. The comedy has to fit your brand to work.
Knowing your audience helps with this. If you know your audience, you know what they find funny. But selecting the right kind of humour is essential as well. Different styles work for different brands and products, so knowledge of the styles helps inform your comedic content.
This guide will discuss how to set a brand voice and walk you through what you need to know if you want to inject humour into your sales and marketing content. Let’s dive into the guide.
What is Brand Voice?
A brand is a company’s set of values they want to convey to the audience. It’s a vital part of your brand strategy. Examples of these values include ‘luxury’, ‘value for money’, or ‘weather resistance’ for a jacket company.
It’s helpful to be able to summarise your brand in three words, like these examples from famous brands:
- Gucci: Seduction, Powerful, Accomplished
- Nike: Performance, Authenticity, Innovation
Brand voice is the tone and personality of your company. It’s the kind of emotions and message you want to convey. A strong brand voice strengthens customer relationships and makes your business more memorable. It helps you stand out from the crowd in a competitive environment.
The customer’s view of them also defines brands.
How the brand communicates with the customer is vital for shaping the brand. What you convey with your brand voice should match your customer’s opinion. But knowing your audience is also key to having a strong brand voice. So make sure you conduct thorough and relevant market research.
Why Use Humour?
Humour makes your brand easier to remember and makes customers trust your brand. However, it depends on your business type. Some businesses are not suited to this type of marketing.
Customers like humour in marketing as well. According to Agility PR, 53% of customers are likelier to remember and enjoy a funny advert. So incorporating humour into your brand voice is a no-brainer.
An example of effective brand humour is Dollar Shave Club. Comedy fan Michael Dubin started the brand. Dubin used his experience in television and marketing to launch a highly successful start-up. His weapon? Humour.
He starred as a straight-talking razor salesman. He used edgy jokes and physical humour to highlight the advantages of his brand.
Remember, though, humour isn’t an exact science. It’s subjective. But making the humour fit with your product or service increases the likelihood your audience will find the branding funny.
This campaign by Hell Pizza is an example of brand humour that misses the mark:
The advert attempts humour by comparing their limited time offer to Jesus’ time on earth. But the pentagram imagery and flippant comparison to religion offended. So it’s best to avoid sensitive subjects like politics and religion in humourous adverts.
Aside from increasing brand recall, adding humour to your content can help your site get high search rankings. If your content is funny and offbeat enough, high-authority websites will likely notice and link to it.
The Super Bowl, for example, is not just an opportunity to make people laugh with your ads. It’s also an excellent time to get your website noticed. Brands that put out funny or memorable Super Bowl commercials tend to get high search rankings after airing their ads. Big names like Budweiser aren’t the only brands that benefit from the Super Bowl Bump, but also small businesses like Dr Squatch:
The ad above touts Dr Squatch as a “natural soap for men who build things, open pickle jars on the first try… and let their daughters braid their hair”. The campaign got attention from multiple websites that all linked back to the Dr Squatch site:
Thanks in no small part to the Super Bowl ad, Dr Squatch is now ranking for the keyword “natural soap men”:
Here’s another example.
Game ran a Christmas campaign intending to rank for the keyword “gaming chair.” Getting links to a piece on the best gaming chairs was always tricky. After all, people aren’t rushing to link to an article about gaming chairs.
To overcome this, Game came up with the Christmas Tinner campaign. The company claimed to offer a Christmas Dinner in a can. You can see the page for the campaign here. You’ll also notice that prominent link to “gaming chair” in the copy.
It was a comedy campaign that played up to this stereotype of lazy gamers who don’t want to exercise or go out of their room. The campaign caught the attention of the media.
The content generated links from 106 referring domains.
The “gaming chair” page briefly ranked in the SERP results over Christmas. Thanks to this innovative SEO campaign, thousands of visitors came to the site daily.
If you’re planning to use humour to improve your search engine visibility, you need to check & track keyword rankings and heavily use the top-ranked keywords for your niche in your campaigns. This will increase organic traffic to your site and generate backlinks from high-authority websites that can raise your search result profile.
How To Incorporate Humour and Comedy Into Your Brand?
Incorporating humour and comedy into your brand gives you authenticity and charm. But you need to do it in the right way. If done incorrectly, humour can offend and put people off your brand. Here’s how to do it correctly:
Zero in on your brand voice
Your brand voice is the tone of your marketing content. But before incorporating humour, you must decide if humour suits your brand. Humour isn’t suited to medical services or funeral homes, for example. Humour is better suited for brands that already have light-hearted marketing. Certain products lend themselves well to humour, but you can make ‘boring products’ like insurance fun using humour.
If humour is appropriate, your brand voice has to reflect your company’s values humorously. Also, you need to decide which humour lends itself to your brand voice. You can be funny and helpful or venture more into the absurd, but more about that later. But remember, your brand tone has to be consistent.
You can’t be funny in one ad and then have a severe website.
An example of a brand that has nailed its humourous brand voice is Old Spice. Note the tones of this classic advert.
The Old Spice advert is humourous in an absurd way. Also, see how the cheeky, humourous tone has continued:
The website has continuity with the cheeky, absurd humour of the adverts. The humour is less absurd on the website, but the fun, light-hearted tone is continued. This makes the humour incorporated into the brand effective.
A good joke takes a premise and gives a unique, original perspective. So if you want to add humour to your brand effectively, your humour must be creative. What connections can be made with the product? Is it a funny connection?
Here is a classic example of a creative and humourous advert from Panasonic:
The ad creatively makes use of the environment. It’s funny, unique, and attracts attention. It promotes the product effectively as well. But be careful when you craft creative ads. The audience needs to know it’s an advert, not an art exhibition.
You must also balance a creative idea and a slick finished product. Maintaining design principles can help turn a creative idea into a great ad.
Know your audience
You need to know your audience if you want to make them laugh. Once you’ve identified your target audience, you can tailor your humour to their tastes. This increases the likelihood of a connection.
One way to do this is by buying personas. A buying persona is a fictional representation of your buyer based on marketing data. According to Protocol 80, adverts crafted using customer personas are twice as effective. Also, they increase marketing-generated revenue.
Understanding your audience through this technique helps you decide the right kind of humour for them. It can also help you identify what the audience might find offensive, avoiding negative backlash.
Select the type of humour
You must know that there are different types of humour, too. So, once you understand your audience, you must choose the type of humour that will resonate with them for your marketing. Remember that you don’t have to stick to one type of humour all the time (although some brands do for consistency). You can use one type of humour for your ad, for instance, and another for your next.
That said, here are the different types of humour you can choose from:
- Deadpan humour
Deadpan humour is blunt and almost awkward. The Office is an excellent example of deadpan humour. In-person, deadpan jokes are told with a straight face. (‘Deadpan’ refers to the joke-teller’s face, ‘the pan’ being the face which is ‘dead’ with emotion.) Text versions of deadpan humour should reflect this, but video adverts are better for deadpan humour.
An example of a brand that utilises deadpan humour in video form is Allstate:
The commentary is the element that is delivered in deadpan. The contrast between the deadpan delivery and the absurdity of the advert creates humour.
If you utilise deadpan effectively, you can see great results. According to their financial reports, the Allstate advert increased sales by 4.3% after just two quarters.
You must be careful with deadpan humour, though, as the audience can miss that the deadpan isn’t serious. At best, you will confuse audiences, like this old Holiday Inn video advert that didn’t land. But you could also cause disgust or offence like this old Skittles ad. It compared the product to a contagious disease; the humour wasn’t enough to negate the unpleasant imagery.
- Observational humour
Observational humour turns everyday quirks into relatable jokes. Customers like seeing themselves in the humour. The popularity of memes shows how powerful observational humour can be for marketing. It’s an excellent way to create that viral moment.
But you need to know your audience to do observational humour. The correct observation will click with them and elicit laughter. This humour can also help build community with customers who all relate to the branding.
An example of a brand that uses observational humour is Zomato:
The advert makes a humourous observation about eating pizza. It’s relatable, amusing, and light-hearted. Also, the audience can joke with friends about how they eat pizza. This can create a nice moment, making the brand more memorable.
- Irreverent humour
This style of humour is a little dark and pokes fun at something held somewhat sacred. Politics, current events, and religion are the topics irreverent humour addresses. If done correctly, irreverent humour has enormous upside potential. It can quickly go viral and attract the right kind of attention from potential customers.
An example of this is Burger King’s advert:
The advert mentions the Covid-19 pandemic, something taken seriously, and makes light of it. It works because it doesn’t downplay the seriousness of the event. It simply adds a little fun to a bad situation.
But it’s important to remember this marketing method doesn’t work with some audiences. Older age brackets or traditional views may be offended by the wrong kind of irreverent humour, which hurts the brand.
- Absurd humour
Good absurd humour takes the audience to the world of the surreal. It’s memorable and works well with the right audience. Also, absurd humour is a safe style of humour. It’s unlikely to offend, and it’s intriguing even for those that don’t find it funny.
This Comedy Central advert is an excellent example of absurd humour:
The ad is absurd but still works for Comedy Central’s brand. It’s an exciting image that garners attention, intrigue, and amusement.
- Topical humour
Keeping up with current events can help you create relevant jokes. But you need to be sure your audience knows what you’re talking about. So big stories and accessible topics are best for this. However, avoid tragic and sensitive stories.
Fun and lighthearted, wordplay can appeal to a broad audience. Puns, double meanings, and references are all examples of wordplay. Wordplay is safe, and customers like it. Also, you can use it to draw attention to specific selling points of the product.
A real-world example would be this British Airways Advert:
The wordplay is a pun on ‘didn’t sleep last night?’, making it relatable and light. Also, the pun draws attention to what British Airways provides: air travel. It also relates to the tagline and image, which nicely ties all the elements together.
Ensure it is appropriate
It’s important to consider how appropriate your humour is to avoid causing harm or offence. Humour in marketing is meant to make you feel good. You can make fun of current events, but keep it light-hearted. Knowing your audience and exercising common sense when assessing appropriateness is best.
It’s also a good idea to tell your joke or show your ad with humour–whichever applies—to a few people first before having it published. What may be funny to you may not be funny to the rest of the population. You wouldn’t want to find out about that the hard way.
So, ask your friends, family, or anyone who comes to mind. Just ensure the people you ask weren’t part of the creative process of coming up with the material. There’s such a thing as bias. People have the natural tendency to love their creations.
Inappropriate memes don’t just cause harm and offence, though. Sometimes it just makes the audience cringe. This can result from the content not fitting the platform. Or from humour that isn’t tailored to the target audience.
A meme is a humourous image or text passed around the internet. For marketing purposes, memes are usually imaged-based. The right meme can create an amusing viral moment. It connects with your audience and allows them to participate by sharing the meme. But memes don’t connect with all audiences, so remember to identify your audience first. Always go back to your buyer personas before creating your memes.
A great example of a brand using memes is Bugles on Instagram:
This is an excellent example of a meme advertising campaign. Firstly, it showcases the product organically. The post looks like it belongs on the Instagram platform; it doesn’t look like an advert. Secondly, it’s relatable and evokes a sense of nostalgia. It makes the audience remember asking for snacks in the grocery store.
You can see the content has a lot of engagement already. You can buy Instagram likes and comments to boost the organic reach of a piece of content.
Also, people love cute animals. A study by Hawaii University found that animal adverts are one of the most popular tactics used by marketers. This is because of the positive psychological benefits of animal depictions. So using animal memes is something to consider, but being funny, relatable, and platform-appropriate is the main thing.
You can also use memes for running jokes to keep your customers engaged. But remember, memes need to stay relevant as well. Reusing the same memes goes against internet meme culture, so be aware of this when using memes for marketing.
It is also essential to research the origin of the meme you intend to use. Classic memes like ‘Pepe the Frog’ can look fun and innocent, but the meme has been linked with hatred and bigotry. Borrowing and adapting memes is part of meme culture. Consider the source material’s origin if you choose to adapt rather than create from scratch.
Adding humour and comedy to your brand has many clear benefits. Customers like humour in marketing. It makes your brand more memorable. Also, they are more likely to engage with a funny advert.
But creativity is vital. Your comedy needs to be original. It also needs to fit into your brand voice, so zeroing in on your brand voice is essential.
Knowing your audience also helps craft humour that connects. It keeps your comedy appropriate as well, which helps avoid negative backlash. But the right kind of humour needs to be used for your brand. It all depends on your brand and what you are trying to achieve. Also, using memes keeps you ahead of the game.
More companies are using humour in their advertising now, particularly with the rise of social media. So creating a unique comedic niche for your brand is a great way to engage with your audience and make your marketing more memorable. You just need to find what humour is suitable for your brand.