Not a Comedian? 5 Tips to Bring Humor into Your Brand Messaging

by | Sep 30, 2011 | At Checkerboard, Integrated Marketing | 1 comment

If you don’t already incorporate humor into your brand campaigns, it’s probably due to the horror stories of ‘funny done horribly wrong by such companies and spokespeople  as 7-Eleven, Kenneth Cole and Gilbert Gottfried. Most humor should be left to thoroughly experienced comedians or humorous writers (and even they mess up sometimes). But these five tips can help you start tapping your audience’s funny bone:

1. Start by taking a cue from Jerry Seinfeld and ask yourself “What’s funny about this?”

The basis of all humor is about presenting a unique perspective that tickles our sense of humor. For example, if you get funny or bizarre Frequently Asked Questions, you could feature them on your site. Or perhaps your boss throws out awesome one-liners when dishing about how the business got started. These could become weekly tweets or posts that show the company personality without putting someone’s feelings at risk.


2. Always keep it PG, PC and don’t try to rationalize it.

If you have to even ask if people will find it funny or appropriate, then you shouldn’t do it. When you start rationalizing about why it will be funny it means it probably won’t be. Good humor should just naturally and apparently be funny. Whoever handles your social media should bear in mind that it’s not them posting, it’s the company, and very few companies want to appear insensitive or cross any lines. For example, Kenneth Cole’s Twitter account made a joke about “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available at … ”. This could have been funny if Egypt was “in uproar” by celebrating something, such as a national holiday. Instead, it was seen as insensitive to the unrest and revolution in Egypt, and elicited a negative response.


3. Embrace wittiness.

OPI has long been known for cunning word plays for its nail polish line, with colors spouting the names Nice Color, Eh?, The Color to Watch, I’m Not Really a Waitress, and one of my favorites: Steady As She Rose for a light pink shade. Witticisms and puns give people a quick, memorable laugh without straying too far into the more delicate areas of humor. For examples of witty headlines and bad puns, check out the headlines of our case studies!


4. Make marketing fun.

Very few businesses (with the exceptions of funeral homes, healthcare brands, etc.) need to remain serious as part of their brand representations. Most companies can find fun in anything they do, whether it is going stir-crazy being at a desk for nine hours a day, having to work outside in all types of weather, or event planning for weddings that always have that one thing go terribly wrong. Does nothing seem funny about your brand? We’d love to let our creative side shine by helping you bring humor into your campaigns or website!


5. Don’t force humor; find it naturally.

Throwing humor into your messaging has the benefit of making customers less resistant to your messaging, and more likely to share it with others, but you cannot force things to be humorous. Be sure you don’t lose the focus of your brand’s message! Start by putting your message in first then adding humor as a last sparkling touch. For example, a Minneapolis agency offers a user guide on how to ‘use’ their company and resources with the tagline “Toasters and clock radios come with instructions, so why not an ad agency?” Their message, aka the user guide, clearly gets communicated but it’s done so in a fun,  memorable way.

Sources: Social Media Examiner and Bolin Marketing

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