Watch The Attitude! Determining Where Humor Fits In Your Brand Tone

My grandfather was fond of saying, “Everybody is a wise guy until they get punched in the face.”

His lesson, that you should consider the consequences before cracking a joke, seems to have been taken to heart by a lot of nervous content teams. Deciding how much personality your content can have often requires striking a delicate balance. Many brands set out to be “engaging,” “new,” and “fun” in their space. However, a lot of brands also miss the mark when it comes to actually executing on this edgier tone of voice. And even the best laid plans of a refreshed brand tone can be thwarted by PR concerns.

Perhaps brands taking a conservative approach to their style of voice is warranted. Marketing history is littered with the bodies of humorous campaigns gone wrong. Personally, I’m waiting for someone to put together a textbook called >Brands Misusing Hashtags for Humor. But does the possibility of a joke missing the mark mean that the best strategy is to just stay away from any sense of attitude altogether?

For brands that want to make memorable impressions and keep audiences uniquely engaged, there is a way to be both safe and snarky. It starts with understanding that the best types of brand humor, like the best comedy acts, are well thought out and cleverly crafted—not crass and pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Funny Isn’t a Formula

If you think back to the television trends of the ’90s, you might remember a familiar format to prime-time advertising slots. It usually went something like: car ad, funny ad, serious ad, pharmaceutical ad, funny ad. Rinse and repeat. It was a time when seemingly every brand had a zinger to tell, and thirty seconds during your favorite sitcom was the only place to share it.

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Watch the Attitude! Determining Where Humor Fits in Your Brand Tone
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