Humour: The game-changer in branding
More than ever, the business landscape is filled with different companies that are engaged in diverse businesses and activities, with the objectives of profit, growth and enhanced bottom-line. Increasingly too, more companies are recognising the strategic necessity of making brands out of their commercial enterprises. How they do this and how well it is done are different matters entirely. Some companies use humour in their brand engagements with the public. Sadly, most companies have boring brands and boring brands are bad for business.
It seems like everyone is trying to be funny in their marketing these days, but why? Well, it works. Humour is a way to sell your brand without outwardly selling something, and consumers certainly don’t want to feel like you’re taking money right out of their pockets. By appealing to a consumer’s emotions, you’re able to engage them and make them remember you.
So, does humour work best for a specific type of company or can anyone do it? If done appropriately, I think most companies can take part. Businesses with highly-specialised or expensive products can take advantage by appealing to all audiences. Someone who interacts with your marketing may not be your target customer, but they could very well share your information with someone who is. It’s all about brand awareness.
Humour can also lend itself to companies in highly-competitive or saturated industries. What better way to stand out from those that sell a product or service of similar quality and price than by letting your company’s personality shine? How many people can remember the ‘tally number’ advert by defunct Universal Trust Bank? It was a remarkable injection of humour in a very conservative industry- banking. The use of the half-educated village interpreter from Icheoku, the colonial Nigeria-themed sitcom, worked well for the brand, so much that it even became part of our lingo.
I think the most remarkable thing about using humour in marketing is how companies with seemingly ordinary products can make you feel like theirs is the most exciting one out there. Oftentimes it’s a product we all need, one that really isn’t much different from brand-to-brand, and one that doesn’t have much price variation. Yet, we are fascinated by its commercials and social media presence. Airtel’s ad about feuding mothers-in-law is always a delight to watch. It uses a relatable sociocultural issue to sell a product that is not entirely different from competitors’.
When it comes to humour, it’s all about authenticity. The brands that make humour work are authentic; they know their persona and they run with it. Some companies sell arguably “boring” products, but using humour in their marketing has transformed the way consumers perceive them.
Some brands sell dull products, and that is the hard truth. Who likes shopping for insurance or toilet paper? That’s why the use of humour is all the more valuable. It’s easy to take an exciting or entertaining product, like a car or clothing line, and make the marketing enjoyable. But the real gift is with those who can take something that people don’t typically enjoy shopping for and make it an experience they will actually look forward to. Access Bank’s Salary for Life ad (carried over from Diamond Bank) featuring comedian, Bovi’s in a diss spat with another guy is a winner, anytime.
Read also: Driving brand affinity through sponsorship
Is brand personality a laughing matter to you? Well, it should be!
Connecting with a brand is not different than any other relationship. You’re attracted to people who are engaging, likable and have a sense of humour. After all, who wants to hang out with someone who’s boring or only talks about themselves all the time? On the most basic level, something that connects us all is laughter.
Humour grabs our attention, and that’s why it’s often used in branding and advertising. And a brand personality that engages you with wit and charm are the ones that outperform others. Just ask anyone to mention their favourite advert, and they are likely to mention an advert that made them laugh. It’s no surprise. Who doesn’t love a good laugh? And regardless of what your product or service is, you’re sure to get noticed if your brand voice has a sense of humour.
Do you know people love to laugh?
About half of all ads around the globe are considered either “funny” or “light-hearted. According to studies, over half (53%) of consumers say they are most likely to remember and enjoy an advertisement if it’s funny.
A 1993 study published by the Journal of Marketing states that when looking at the effects of humour in advertising, “humour is more likely to enhance recall, evaluation, and purchase intention when the humorous message coincides with ad objectives and is well-integrated with the objectives and is viewed as appropriate for the product category. Under such circumstances, humorous advertising is more likely to secure audience attention, increase memorability, overcome sales resistance, and enhance message persuasiveness.” This assertion is still true today.
We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it.” It’s amazing how many brands miss the mark when it comes to communicating their message. The simple truth is, audiences don’t like to be pitched or sold, they want to be entertained. People will pay more attention to humorous ad content than factual or serious ones, which opens them up to being influenced and even sharing what they’ve seen. Humour breaks down walls, shows personality, instils trust, and helps you see a brand’s human side.
If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that people love to laugh. We could all afford to smile and laugh a little more in our lives, and if you’re a brand that can make us do that, we’re going to appreciate it. So, keep the laughs coming!