Get funny with your branding?

Mar 23, 2011 by Mark Baines Category: Brand Design

OK – so we all like a good joke, and we love being amused by the ads, but do they really work for your brand?

When I launched Marcom I did consider calling it AGP – Ars Gratia Pecuniae, which is latin for ‘art for money’s sake’ – but I reckoned no-one would get the joke, and those that did would probably take it the wrong way.

So then a rush of common sense made me call it Marcom and the rest is history.

Well, not quite, because for a year I joined up with another agency and we called it TBN – Three Big Names – as there were only two of us directors and we weren’t big names (like Messrs Saatchi et al).

No-one got the joke then either.

Moral: What makes you laugh doesn’t always work for your customers.

So here are my top Dos and Don’ts for humour in branding:

  • Do be politically correct – boring but important.
  • Do test drive it on an impartial audience – you’re probably not as funny as you think.
  • Do use it sparingly – not everyone wants to laugh.
  • Don’t be too clever – remember the lowest common denominator (you’ll find me in this group!).
  • Don’t get too dark – we want to laugh, not cry.
  • Don’t allow the humour to overwhelm your message – remember, you’re trying to sell something.
  • Don’t use humour for the sake of it – a bum joke can undermine your credibility.
  • Don’t use the same joke in different countries – most of the English speaking world find word-play the most amusing of all humour types, but in North America they prefer people looking stupid. Apparently Europeans like surreal humour the best – I’ll leave you to work that one out!

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