I love to laugh.
If you’ve ever had a conversation with me, you know this is true. Especially when I break out groan-worthy puns and giggle at my own jokes. In fact, I used humour during one of the darkest times of my life, writing funny stories and observations to tap into the light around me. You can read these in “Depression Constipation: How Pooping Saved My Sanity…and Other Stories.”
Yet, I used to avoid using humour in my business, thinking it would create an image of “unprofessionalism” and “silly Lindsay.”
And I struggled, often grunting while trying to create content for clients because I just couldn’t push through.
After doing my own work on “what makes me and my brand unique,” I could no longer hide the fact that I was (ahem – am) a humorous individual. Funny and witty were the two most common adjectives my colleagues and larger network came up with time and again (quirky, detailed, and creative were the other highest). So, I decided to lean into this a wee bit more.
Each time I started new content projects, I would create a pun. Very rarely did this pun ever make it into the content itself, but it gave me the permission to relax and get into the flow of writing.
What I didn’t know is that humour in branding is actually a secret weapon, not a faux pas, as authors Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas share in their book, Humor Seriously: Why Humor is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life.
But WHY is humour such a powerful tool for brands to use?
Humour is natural
It’s science! Seriously – when people laugh, the brain releases those feel-good endorphins, decreases cortisol levels, and increases oxytocin levels (those hormones responsible for love and trust!). When we laugh, we literally change our brains! Not to mention that laughing acts as a great pain reliever. Plus, a really good laugh is a super ab workout.
Using humour actually makes your audience like you more because you make them feel good (endorphins, friends) and their trust levels will increase because you’re basically giving them oxytocin (in a healthy, natural way).
Humour can make hard topics easier to connect to
Humour is a tool that can make truly tough or taboo topics more accessible.
Outside of brand development and strategy, I write and speak on depression and anxiety. Yet, I do this through humour. Not because I think mental health is a funny topic (it’s not), but because it connects with those who may be “turned off” of something that traditionally has stigma attached to it. So yes, I make A LOT of poop jokes. BUT – I also get people thinking differently about depression in a more comfortable manner. This then opens them up to be more receptive while diffusing any discomfort around the topic.
Humour makes your brand more relatable
Brands are human at the end of the day. Yes, your brand is the DNA of a business.
Humour allows you to be more approachable, more relatable, and remembered as such. Not taking yourself too seriously breaks down barriers between you and your audience because it humanizes your brand. Brands who are more human tend to cultivate empathy, trust, and connection. This allows your audience to feel closer to you as a company.
Using humour authentically in your brand allows people to see the fullness of your business. This is what they connect with….not your super-duper product or service (yet).
Not all humour translates!
Using humour can be risky, though. So, it’s crucial to remember that humour is both cultural and contextual. How can you counter this?
- Know your audience! Using humour can backfire if you do not know who your content is for. It’s crucial to understand who your audience is, what’s important to them, and how they’ll interpret your humour.
- Stay away from humour that’s in poor taste, using humour just to crack a joke (this is not authentic), or making fun of highly sensitive issues and insulting people. These will all backfire and harm your brand (not to mention those you may unintentionally be insulting). Not everything is meant to be funny. I create puns around depression and constipation to get people to open their ears and listen. I will not ever joke around the seriousness of depression and the harm that it can cause in people’s lives.
If you are looking to bring humour into your brand, first identify:
- What makes your company laugh? What are the types of jokes your people share and why? Do these relate to your audience?
- Are there industry-specific truths and observations that your clients can relate to?
- Will your audience see your humour as authentic…or trying too hard?
- What is your company’s humour style? I love puns. Not everyone does. These individuals are not my audience. Those who like puns…these are my people.
With that, humour is something that can be crafted and practiced. If you are looking to fuse your natural humour with your brand, know that it will come over time, so long as you listen to yourself, your people, and your audience as to what resonates with them. You’ll hear their snorts of laughter.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to find a brand voice that is truly you, just reach out and let’s chat. That’s what I’m here for, humour or not.