In our previous post, we discussed some of the ways that adding humor to your brand voice can backfire. It may be hard to believe that an entire blog post could be filled with dire warnings about what not to do, but the consequences of using inappropriate or inoffensive humor in a professional setting can be very serious. There are countless examples online of professionals from all walks of life who have made simple or even offhand jokes or statements that have cost them their jobs and professional reputations.

Humorous Advertising Can Be Wildly Successful

Yet don’t be intimidated by using humor in your brand! Even a simple joke, when successful, can be incredibly powerful in winning over both your existing and potential customers. On social media, a successful and universally acceptable joke or humorous anecdote can even “go viral’, bringing acclaim to your brand. By following a few proven strategies, you can ensure that your brand is humorous in ways that are universal, inoffensive and, most importantly, successful.

Utilize A Brand Persona

What is the usefulness of creating and utilizing a brand persona?  A brand persona is a unique marketing and advertising tool, a literal personification of your brand. Brand personas such as Progressive Insurance’s Flo or Apple’s Mac aren’t just fictional characters created to appear in commercials, they are manifestations of the brands they represent. the humor in these commercials and embodied by these characters represent the humor of their respective brands. It also allows you to separate yourself from your brand, especially if you find it difficult to separate what you personally find funny from what is appropriate for your target market.

Always Know Your Audience

In addition to understanding what is offensive and non-offensive and what is universally acceptable, it is also extremely important to understand the target audience for your humor. Anytime you release content on the Internet, whether it is through your blog or social media channels, you must assume that not only everyone will possibly read your content, but it will remain on the Internet forever. It goes without saying that humor released over the Internet should be directed at the largest audience possible. However, if you are making a speech or a presentation as a representative of your brand, it is advisable to adapt your humor in a more specific manner to be more appealing to your specific audience.

Always Cite Your Source

If you are a naturally humorous person, it may be relatively easy for you to write your own material, jokes, or anecdotes, but there is no shame in admitting that you have to utilize the humor of others. However, there is risk of damage to your reputation if you attempt to pass off someone else’s material as your own. Always cite the author or source of the humor, even if you are limited by space or if you believe the source is irrelevant, such as an author who is long dead. While it is unlikely that a professional comedian or writer will take you to court for civil damages, someone in your audience will likely know that you are reusing material, and the damage to your professional reputation may be more severe than you initially think.