As a brand, you want to be seen as professional, trustworthy and capable. But there’s also a strong argument for letting down the professional facade occasionally to use a little humour in your marketing, your communications and the company’s brand personality.

Are we joking? Making gags in professional marketing? We’re totally sincere about this. In fact, humour is actually what your customers want, according to the latest consumer research.

So, how do you get the balance right between tickling customers funny bones and maintaining the professional reputation of your company’s brand?

Consumers want humour: but business leaders are wary of being funny

91% of people globally prefer brands to be funny. But 95% of business leaders are worried about using humour in their brand’s consumer interactions, according to [The Happiness Report] (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-report-45-of-people-have-not-felt-true-happiness-for-more-than-two-years-301568258.html) from Oracle and author-podcaster Gretchin Rubin.

The stats from this report are pretty conclusive. The average customer likes a chuckle, but businesses are still acting rather ‘buttoned down’ and serious:

  • -90% of people are more likely to remember ads that are funny
  • 72% of people would choose a humorous brand over the competition
  • But only 20% of brands report having used humour in offline ads, and 18% of brands report using the tactic in online ads.
  • So, what can your brand do to liven things up with a bit of humour? We’ve shone the light on three core pillars for raising a smile, without damaging your reputation.

Use humour to reveal the true personality of your brand

When you use it effectively, humour helps make your brand more relatable, approachable and likeable. Cracking a funny helps differentiate your brand from your rather dour competitors. It also leaves potential customers with a smile on their face – and happy customers are more likely to spend more and become advocates for your brand.

To add humour to your brand personality:

  • Be genuine with your humour – your humour should be honest and come from the heart. Don’t fake it. Be yourself and use your authentic voice.
  • Be relatable to your audience – use humour that your target audience will understand and appreciate. And be careful with your reference points.
  • Be respectful – Avoid being offensive, discriminatory or crass. Brand humour is likely to be gentle, playful or slightly nerdy in its delivery, but always inclusive.

Avoid the temptation to be zany or too wacky

Don’t fall into the trap of being too zany or ‘off the wall’ with your humour. If you’re trying too hard to be funny, you can actually end up alienating your intended audience. Also, be careful about creating ‘wackaging’, as this can get up people’s noses and can end up destroying your brand loyalty.

To keep your humour on track

  • Use humour that’s subtle but raises a chuckle – a well-placed joke or a witty tagline can be much more effective than a loud, over-the-top approach.
  • Keep your jokes simple – don’t over-complicate your jokes or try too hard to be funny (it shows).
  • Keep gags relevant for your audience – make sure your humour is relevant for your target audience. It might make you laugh, but will your customers also laugh?

Know when humour is appropriate, and how far you can go

Not all situations call for humour, and being funny in an inappropriate way can occasionally backfire. So, be sure that what you’re saying hits the mark and won’t cause a problem. Remember, your aim is to raise a laugh from your customers and boost that warm, fuzzy feeling they have for your brand. Keep this in mind whenever you’re introducing humour.

Here are some tips to keep you on track:Use your judgement – there are no hard and fast rules. But remember that a joke has to raise a giggle, not cause offence.

  • Be respectful – avoid humour that’s offensive or discriminatory in any way. This means avoiding any stereotypes that will reflect badly on your judgement as a brand. Always punch up, and not down, with your jokes and keep your target audience in mind.
  • Test your material – if you’re worried whether a particular joke is appropriate (or not), test it out on a small group of people before airing it in a public forum.

Use fresh humour to create a unique brand personality

It’s important to keep your humour original. If you start using outdated or overused humour, your customers are likely to see your brand as unoriginal and uninspired. So, be sure to keep your jokes fresh and funny.

If adding a touch of humour to a marketing campaign or a blog post feels right, embrace that and let your true brand personality shine through.

Be honest, be funny and show your humorous side to your customers. You won’t regret it.