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Brand Science: Why Brands With Humor Outperform Their Competitors

Eric Groves

By Eric Groves

Is Brand Personality a Joke to You? 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 humor. 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.

Humor 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. Ask anyone what their favorite ad is and they’re likely to say it’s something 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 humor.

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People Love to Laugh

About half of all ads around the globe are considered either “funny” or “light-hearted. According to a new survey from B2B research and reviews firm Clutch, over half (53%) of consumers say they are most likely to remember and enjoy an advertisement if it’s funny.

A study from 1993 that still stands up today by the Journal of Marketing found that when looking at the effects of humor in advertising, “humor is more likely to enhance recall, evaluation, and purchase intention when the humorous message coincides with ad objectives is well-integrated with those 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.”

What Kind of Voice and Brand Personality Do Have?

We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it.” Take a moment and think about how your brand voice sounds. Have someone read your marketing materials or content from your website. Does it sound like it’s coming from a person with an amazing personality that you want to get to know? Or does it come across as a monotone drone of sales speak? It’s amazing how many brands miss the mark when it comes to communicating their message.

All too often it’s just the facts and nothing but boring marketing jargon. 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. Humor breaks down walls, shows personality, instills trust, and helps you see a brand’s human side.

Here in the U.S. humor is used more than in any other region. However, if the humor distracts from branding and communication, it can hinder your ad’s effectiveness. That’s why it’s important to not only entertain but inform your audience with messages that are relevant and make meaningful connections.

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GEICO Humor Pays Off

No brand stands out more when it comes to humor than GEICO. Who would’ve thought you could make insurance interesting, let alone, gut-busting hysterical. But that’s exactly what GEICO did. Beginning in 2004, the insurance company GEICO began a series of ads as part of a campaign with the tagline, using GEICO is “so easy, even a caveman can do it.” In the commercials, people dressed as Neanderthal-looking cavemen appear moments after the tagline is heard. The cavemen appear upset and offended at being used as a prop for the company. Later, the GEICO Gecko became their spokesperson mascot, and a wide range of other humorous spots have continued to win the approval of consumers.

In 2012 GEICO spent over $1.1 billion in advertising or 6.8% in revenue. And the investment has paid off. Today GEICO is one of the most wildly successful insurance brands in the industry that continues to tickle our funny bones. And their brilliant use of humor has influenced its competitors to follow in the same knee-slapping tradition.

So, take an honest look at your brand. Could it use an infusion of personality and humor? If so, let us know and we can develop strategies and solutions to take it to the next level.

Eric Groves is the Founder and Creative Director of Flying Hippo Brand + Digital. Should you decide it’s time to take your brand to another level, please reach out for a free consultation.

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