The Power of a Pun

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Another year end is upon us and I’m left thinking that the world needs laughter. So, to end 2018, and because humour is so important to how The Write Harle works and interacts with clients, I’m going to end this year’s blog with a bit about the power of a pun!

It’s okay to have a wee groan here to prepare yourself for the puns ahead!

Puns Perfect Branding, Content and Relationships

While it may not be the highest brow of humour (yes, even I can admit this), puns are a wonderful place to start finding creative and unique voices, develop branded content, and enhance client engagement.

Puns feed creativity

Playing with words is all puns are and isn’t playing meant to be fun? When we tap into our playful selves, we often get the mental flow going for creative writing because we remove our inhibitions regarding rules around structure and grammar. We play.

This is so important, especially when developing content for industries that are traditionally a bit more…hmm…cumbersome, such as Oil & Gas, what with all the terminology, engineer speak, and technical requirements. Yet, one of my favourite projects was for a client’s well abandonment sell sheet. While her brand was absolutely professional, she admitted that she is quirky and loved to joke around while getting down to business with her clients and her content needed to reflect this.

To begin developing her content’s perfect tone, I started with a pun to loosen up and forget the technical jargon that would have to be included. The pun here that got the flow going for a typically dry (ha!) industry was:

Oil’s well that ends well!

Now, I did not actually use this in her content as it wasn’t the right tone. However, this humour became the foundation for her brand voice. From there, the content flowed, and we were able to develop impactful content that stood out in her industry without compromising her professionalism OR her personality.

Puns can lighten the mood

Writing, branding, creating – it should be fun. However, sometimes the realities of business (and life) can become heavy and fun isn’t top of mind.

I’ve used puns many a time in conversations, including hard business ones (where appropriate), as they have the power to lighten the mood. While not a business-related pun, the following is a true conversation between my dog’s vet and me about the cost for multiple lump removals on Coco (our company’s Team Member of the Year):

Vet: It’s $200 for lump removal

Me: Is that total cost or per lump?

Vet: Typically, per lump, but we usually just charge the one price.

Me: So…one lump sum then?

Talking about lumps on my dog was a highly stressful situation. My way to take in the facts, digest the costs of surgery, and stay calm was to make the pun. This was how the vet knew I was engaged in the conversation and his kind groan in response let me know that he was listening to all my questions, building my trust in him. (FYI – Coco is all fine now!)

Puns provide a focus for a company

When coming up with the name for The Write Harle, I knew I wanted a pun. What I didn’t know at the time was that my last name (Harle) derives from a couple different meanings, one of which is that it is part of a quill feather pen. Once I discovered this, The Write Harle came to be. We develop branded content (we write) while subtly hinting that we are the right company to write your content. And…if you’re lucky, we’ll do it with a quill pen! Just kidding, but we will build relationships with personalized conversations, emails, and yes, even a letter every now and then.

And The Write Harle is not the only one! Think about it, there are plenty of companies out there who have built their companies around puns:

  • Big brands, including Staples (staples for your stapler OR for the staples of your office), Petsmart (it’s a pet’s mart for smart pets), and Burger King (it’s a king of a burger AND a burger that’s fit for a king) all have grown on a pun-based name,
  • Cannabis companies, particularly in Alberta, have taken company pun naming to a new level, and
  • Calgary restaurants are no different with the likes of Cluck N Cleaver, Proof, and Veg-In YYC (to name just a few of these clever businesses!).

Puns bring the personality out of a company but also get clients and customers thinking (or at least delighting in a chuckle), which engages them further in the company’s brand.

A Fair Warning about the Power of the Pun!

While puns are amazing, they can sidetrack, so use them wisely! Know your audience, read the situation, and let the pun go unsaid if it is not warranted at the time. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve let a brilliant pun slip by simply because the other side would not have appreciated it…and it would have broken rapport and trust.

Even if you don’t love puns – they are a polarizing type of humour after all – it’s important to find something that helps enhance your creative process.

What do you use to encourage creativity, comfort, and playfulness in your clients and business? Share your thoughts below or contact The Write Harle for a branded content chat…or to share your personal favourite pun!

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