While we’ve always known that injecting humor into situations makes the mood lighter, we have hard data showing that comedy sells products.
A worldwide survey conducted by Nielsen revealed that humor consistently ranks high as an advertising theme compared to others such as family, pets, or even sex, no matter where the market is located.
A great example of a business that put this theory into practice is the mattress company Purple. The Youtube ad, The Goldilocks Bed Experiment, has 186,189,435 views at the time of posting.
It’s incredibly funny. More importantly, the ad helped drive $75 million in sales in 2016.
Now that you know how much humor can change your business’s bottom line, the question becomes, how do you go about adding humor and comedy into your brand? We’ve come up with five steps for turning your dull brand into something that gives people just the right amount of laughs while maintaining credibility.
Find your brand voice
Establishing your brand voice is the first step in making sure that people recall your company and the products you sell. Your brand voice should be situated at the crossroads between what you want your brand to tell your customers and what you believe your customers should feel about the company. Ideally, you should be able to sum up your brand voice in a couple of words.
Below are some questions you could ask to help define your brand voice:
- If your brand was a person, how would you describe them?
- How would you describe your competition?
- Do you see your brand as an underdog and your rivals as some Goliath?
- What differentiates you from the other brands operating in your space?
If your business provides a time clock app, as we do, you might summarize your brand voice as “reliable, accurate, easy.” Alternatively, you might choose to go for “fun, accessible, stable” instead. Whatever happens, your brand voice should be well-defined and stand for what your business wants to become, even if your brand tone changes according to the situation.
Focus on a pain point
All successful brands fill a need. It is your job as a marketer to understand the customer’s needs and address them. These problems are known as “pain points,” and your products should be able to solve some or all of them. If you can address pain points consistently, you will win new customers and retain existing ones.
Marketing experts often categorize pain points into four broad categories:
- Financial: Customers feel that they are spending a lot but are not getting their money’s worth from their current product or service provider. They want to get more bang for their buck.
- Productivity: People want to save time or increase productivity using a solution similar to the one you provide.
- Support: They want support to help them achieve their goal. It might even be, they want to purchase from a company they can rely on because it has first-rate customer support.
- Process: Customers want to streamline their processes to ensure that all bases are covered. This might involve searching for a tool with increased functionality. There is an overlap here with productivity.
You need to identify the specific pain points your product solves, and present your products accordingly. Listing your audience’s pain points is important because it will help you define your content marketing strategy.
Keep in mind; the pain points don’t need to be specific to the problem you are solving. For example, you’ll find companies that feel that “entertaining their audience” is an important element of their content marketing strategy. The burger chain Wendy’s is a great example. More on this later.
Choose your kind of humor
“Humor” is a broad term. What you find funny can be considered corny or even offensive by some people. How do you establish a sense of humor that customers will find engaging?
The humor that you choose should be true to your brand. It should also speak to your audience and make them spill their coffee, not roll their eyes. To start with, you need to decide how frequently and where you should inject humor into your marketing content.
Spotify is an excellent example. As each year draws to a close, Spotify puts together campaigns that utilize user data as inspiration.
If a company executed these ads in another industry like banking or insurance, they might be seen as intrusive or even a violation of data privacy rules. However, Spotify pulls it off with a sprinkling of humor that pokes fun at people’s musical tastes. They even call out misspelled playlist titles with rib-tickling results.
Humor in branding isn’t just confined to advertising. Some brands use their HTTP 404 error pages to showcase their unique sense of humor.
Hub09, an Italian advertising agency, uses a series of animated GIFs of people doing the facepalm to express their disappointment that you were not able to find the page you were looking for. If you look through the rest of Hub09’s website, you will quickly realize that the 404 page is consistent with the rest of their brand voice.
Choosing your humor consists of two things: knowing your audience and understanding what makes them laugh. If you’ve got these two right, you’re on the right track.
Create Your Tribe
We all identify ourselves with labels, and we group people in the same way. For example, think of these terms:
There are probably people in your social group who you’d label with one of these terms. Even if you don’t know people who identify with these social labels, you could probably describe some shared characteristics of people in each group.
This phenomenon is relevant to business. When people choose to purchase from a company, they often identify with your brand over another. You can play on this by exploiting a “them versus us” mentality using humor.
Some brands are a lot better than others at this. Others just rule over the pretenders.
Let’s take fast-food chain Wendy’s as an example. On the surface, Wendy’s just looks like your average burger joint with a freckled, family-friendly logo that conspiracy theorists claim says “MOM”.
Wendy’s is known for hitting the competition where it hurts on social media. For example, when McDonald’s announced that they were switching over to fresh beef Quarter Pounder burger patties in most of their restaurants the social media team at Wendy’s were quick to react.
It’s a humorous exchange. Wendy’s are indirectly stating that they use fresh meat in all of their restaurants all of the time. It’s humor that seeks to emphasize the difference in product quality between these two competing companies.
As a result of this brash but calculated approach to social media, Wendy’s has cemented its reputation as the King of Fast Food Twitter. While this approach may not work for your brand and industry, it’s an excellent example of the magic that can happen when you identify your brand voice and put together a competent team. Speaking of a team…
Find a team that can work with your sense of humor
A joke’s success depends heavily on delivery. You may have some really funny material, but if your branding team or ad agency does not know how to execute it, your campaign will end up falling flat on its face.
You don’t have to hire any of the big names like McCann or Ogilvy just to put together a funny marketing campaign. Some of the funniest people around don’t even work in ad agencies.
It’s always good to find and reach out to people who can look at your brand and products with a fresh set of eyes and see something funny in them. Where do you find these people?
Humor is pretty much hit-and-miss, and we have no guarantee that the same things people find funny now will still be funny today. Nevertheless, if you are clear on what you are looking for, you can try and discover creatives capable of producing such content.
Once you’ve assembled your comedy crew, put them all together in a room for a day or two and leave them the heck alone. This is when ideas start coming out. Of course, you shouldn’t discount the little gems of humor they drop outside isolation, but whatever they come up with during the brainstorming session should form the germ of your humor-infused branding.
Some brands have been amazingly successful as a result of injecting humor into their marketing, while others do better when they keep it serious. If your business does decide to inject humor into your brand, it has to be the result of a long and intensive thought process.
Your humor should be aligned with your brand voice and goals. More difficult to achieve is to find a branding team that can spot opportunities for humor. This might take a while to achieve. However, if your business can learn how to take advantage of humor, you can rapidly increase your reach, engage your core audience, and turn more prospects into customers.