If you ask someone for their ideal qualities in a significant other or friend, a sense of humor is almost always near the top of the list. And there’s a good reason why humor gets a shoutout alongside key traits like honesty and empathy.
Humor has the magical ability to ease difficult situations and help us extract more joy out of life.
Those are pretty important things if you want a relationship that lasts.
Your brand is a relationship too. It’s between your business and your customers. Your business has to communicate the value it provides to its customers. And customers have to understand and trust how that value fits their needs.
And just like with people, a brand that provides humor can feel more attractive.
Research has shown connections between a person’s ability to process and produce humor and their cognitive and emotional intelligence. As a result, when someone makes us laugh it’s a signal of a relationship to invest energy in.
Relationships with funny, smart people provide lots of benefits to our personal and professional lives. They help to:
- Relax tension
- Provide comfort to share thoughts
- Keep challenges in perspective
- Trigger new ideas
- Build trust within relationships
- Make otherwise tough, tedious, or boring situations enjoyable
- And just make us feel good
When brands get stuck on describing and selling features, they end up sounding, looking, and feeling one dimensional. It’s robotic.
With even a little dash of humor, a brand can start to sound like an actual human being. And not just any human, but one that you would enjoy getting to know.
Humor gives your brand depth and dimension. It elevates customer relationships to a personal level rather than a vending machine transaction.
And it doesn’t matter if your business operates in a traditionally serious vertical. Almost any business can find room for a touch of humor. In fact, if all your competitors skew dry and conservative, humor can be a great way to differentiate.
There are of course cases that require extra care — medicine, money, security. If risk levels are high, you can build emotional connections in other ways.
But cases where humor is off limits are more the exception than the norm.
The Jester Brand Archetype
To conceptualize the characteristics of your brand, we use Brand Archetypes (check out our free resource section on Brand Archetypes here). Archetypes transform the abstract concept of a business into a living, breathing character. This can help with creating messaging and content that’s clear and consistent.
The archetype that centers around humor is The Jester.
Here’s a description of The Jester from the book Archetypes In Branding:
“Joyfully living in the moment, the Jester seeks to lighten up the world. Able to bend perspective, twist meanings and interpret events and people in surprising ways, the Jester can speak truth to those in power. The Jester appreciates beauty, change, surprised and wicked intellect. “
The core qualities of The Jester include things like: wicked humor, originality, and irreverence.
In our brand strategy work, we don’t assign one strict archetype to a brand. Instead we use a combination of archetypes to create your brand’s unique character.
This is important when it comes to humor, because most brands aren’t, and shouldn’t be, strictly Jesters. Instead The Jester can serve a supporting role. This allows you to add elements of humor when they’re relevant without making it the central focus.
Inserting Humor In Non-Funny Brands
To highlight the humanizing benefits of humor, here are three recent ad campaigns that bring a funny edge to otherwise non-humorous brands.
Nike: Ilana Glazer Gets A Runner’s High
Ilana Glazer is the co-creator of the amazing sitcom Broad City. In this spot, Nike embraces the perspective of people that only “Just kinda, sorta wanna do it”.
Spotify: Listen Like You Used To
While time keeps chugging by, Spotify provides a reminder that you can still enjoy the same classic tracks you grew up on. It’s an example of how the best humor often hits close to home and might even sting a little.
Philadelphia Cream Cheese: Bagel That
There’s really nothing funny about cream cheese….unless you create a device that transforms any food into a bagel. The results are weird, a little bit gross, but also hilarious.
But What If We’re Not Funny People?
Early on, most brands either have very little personality or they default to the personality of the founders. This is natural as the people running the business end up having a big hand in the brand’s visual style and copywriting.
For some businesses that personal connection between the founders and the brand can be a strength. But it’s also important to recognize the distinction between who you are personally and what’s best for your business.
Just because you’re not a funny person, doesn’t mean your brand can’t use humor. It’s important to recognize the distinction between personal style and what would best connect with the needs of your audience.
And when it comes to humor, we’re not talking about writing an hour long comedy special. Some of the best humor is very subtle. Connections can be captured in a little wink or inside joke aimed right at your target customer.
So, take a look at the way your brand communicates. Does your messaging sound like something a human being would say? If your website was a person, is it someone you’d want to spend time with? If not, try using humor to breathe life into your brand so that you can build more authentic connections with your customers.
Get Help Injecting Some Humor Into Your Brand
If you’re ready to create a clear, consistent tone of voice for your brand, reach out for a free consultation. We’ll help you transform your best business thinking into an actionable, shareable, growth-oriented guide. Click below to learn more about the Brand Guidebook process.