8 min read

Building Brands with Humour: A Laughing Matter or Serious Business?

Humour, that universal language of laughter and joy, has been long associated with lightheartedness, merriment, and casual conversations. But can this seemingly simple tool be utilised in the serious world of business? Specifically, can branding leverage the power of humour to resonate with customers? Let’s dive into this fascinating world of “funny business” and explore why and how brands should embrace humour.

The Power of Humour

“Humour is mankind’s greatest blessing,” said the renowned author Mark Twain. But is this blessing exclusive to social gatherings and friendly banter? Certainly not. Here’s why humour is gaining traction in the world of branding:

  • Emotional Connection: Humour often breaks down barriers and builds connections. When brands use humour, they connect with customers on an emotional level, fostering loyalty and engagement.
  • Memorability: Funny advertisements or campaigns tend to stick in our minds more than dry, factual ones. The humorous element makes them more memorable, enhancing brand recall.
  • Differentiation: With many brands vying for customers’ attention, humour can provide a point of difference. It can make a brand stand out, offering a unique identity in a crowded market.

Now, let’s look at how some brands successfully employ humour to resonate with their audience.

Building Brands with Humour: Case Studies

1. Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Old Spice revolutionised its brand image from a traditional men’s grooming product to a modern, vibrant, and appealing brand with its humour-laden campaign. The hilarious ad featuring “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” instantly became a viral sensation, transforming Old Spice’s brand perception and appeal.

2. Dollar Shave Club: Our Blades Are F*ing Great**

Dollar Shave Club burst onto the scene with a hilarious video introducing their service. The founder, Mike Dubin, utilised his comedic timing to present an everyday problem (expensive razors) in a humorous light. The video amassed millions of views and catapulted the brand to success.

3. Innocent Drinks: Witty Social Media Posts

Innocent Drinks has established its brand personality as fun, cheeky, and irreverent through their use of humour on social media. From puns to playful interactions with customers, Innocent Drinks’ funny content makes the brand more relatable and engaging, contributing to a loyal following.

4. IKEA: Bookbook™ Commercial

IKEA leveraged humour and satire for their Bookbook™ commercial. They presented their printed catalog as a groundbreaking technological invention, poking fun at tech companies’ product launches. The ad was received positively, with viewers applauding IKEA’s creative and humorous approach.

Harnessing Humour on Social Media: The New Age Branding

Social media provides an ideal platform for brands to experiment with humour. It allows real-time engagement, broad reach, and the ability to create viral content. Here’s how brands are making the most of it:

  • Witty Responses and Conversations: Brands like Wendy’s have become social media sensations with their clever comebacks and playful banter with customers and competitors. These witty interactions not only entertain but also humanise the brand and foster a sense of community.
  • Memes and Trending Topics: Brands that create or participate in humorous memes or trending topics show that they’re up-to-date and understand internet culture. This resonates with younger audiences who spend a significant amount of time online.
  • Funny, Relatable Content: By sharing humorous, everyday experiences, brands can connect with their audience on a more personal level. This relatable content can drive engagement and shares, increasing the brand’s visibility.

Brands that Harness Social Media Humour

  1. Wendy’s: Wendy’s, as mentioned above, is infamous for its humorous and sometimes cheeky Twitter presence. The fast-food chain often employs a sassy and sarcastic tone to engage with customers, and even playfully roast competitors. Their humorous content typically goes viral, getting shared and talked about widely, thereby boosting their brand visibility and appeal.
  2. Netflix: Netflix often leverages trending memes and pop culture references to promote its shows and movies on social media. The brand has a distinctive humorous and casual tone which resonates with their primarily young audience. A famous example is their “Netflix and chill” meme, which not only went viral but also seeped into mainstream vernacular.
  3. Oreo: Oreo has a knack for making the most out of real-time events and turning them into humorous social media posts. Their “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl power outage is an excellent example of how they use humour and timely relevance to engage with their audience.
  4. MoonPie: MoonPie’s social media channels, especially Twitter, are well-known for their absurdist, quirky humour. The brand often posts non-sequiturs, irreverent comments, and surreal comedy, all of which contribute to a unique brand voice that has garnered them a loyal online following.
  5. Innocent: Innocent, a prominent UK-based health food and beverage company, as mentioned above previously, expertly utilises humour on social media to create a unique brand persona. Their clever, relatable content fosters a sense of community and customer loyalty, making the brand more approachable.

Billboard Humour:


Specsavers: Specsavers’ billboards playfully jest, “Should’ve gone to Specsavers,” turning missed sights into memorable marketing quips.


Oasis: use witty banter turning beverage norms on their head with a chuckle.


Chick-fil-A: cows humorously plead, “Eat Mor Chikin,” turning bovine self-preservation into a quirky branding staple.

How Does It Work: The Process of Incorporating Humour into Branding

Brands don’t wake up one day and decide to be funny. The process of incorporating humour into branding is a thoughtful and strategic endeavour. Here’s how it works:

  • Understand Your Audience: Not all humour is universal. What’s funny to one person might not be to another. Brands must understand their target audience’s preferences, cultural norms, and values to ensure their humour resonates and doesn’t offend.
  • Define Your Brand Voice: Humour should align with your brand voice. If your brand voice is formal, sophisticated humour may work better. If your voice is casual, slapstick or quirky humour might be the way to go.
  • Trial and Error: Using humour can be a risk, and not every attempt will be a hit. Brands should be ready for some trial and error, learning from each experience to refine their approach.
  • Engage, Don’t Sell: Humour should be used to engage the audience and build relationships, not overtly sell products. Brands that do this well see improved customer loyalty and brand perception.

Building brands with humour isn’t a laughing matter, but a serious business strategy with potential for significant rewards. Brands that understand their audience, define their voice, and experiment with humour can create memorable experiences, foster loyalty, and stand out in today’s competitive marketplace. As the examples above demonstrate, when done right, this approach is far from a punchline – it’s a pathway to success. In the serious world of business, it’s time to see the lighter, funnier side of things.

Read more about the Jester Branding archetype.