Brand humour is one of the hardest wins to achieve. Sometimes it may feel like a confusing game of dice – how can your brand make memes, and what do (can?) you do if it doesn’t land the way you intended?
If you want to meme with confidence and without having to walk on eggshells around your audience after, read on.
Why your brand should leverage the magic of memes
Humour is related to intelligence
According to The Role of Creative Potential and Intelligence for Humor Production, the ability to come up with good puns or jokes has been seen across time as an indicator of intelligence or creativity. By using humour, you are subtly positioning your brand as one that is smart, attentive, and sharp. That said, knowing when and where to crack a joke is almost as important – if not more important – than the joke itself. Master this, and you will nail the witty brand image.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh?
For a generation that is exiting a global pandemic and entering an impending recession and escalating political tension internationally, laughter in times of crisis is as good as gold. People are hungry for a sliver of light-heartedness, so why not deliver on it?
Satire as a tool for self-awareness
Memes, in essence, are a form of visual rhetoric that convey criticism through satire. Yes, making fun of yourselves, your brand, your generation, your nation or culture, and even your audience can open your brand to some fire, but if your customers can tell that your brand is frank about its own limitations or flaws, this creates valuable opportunities for open conversations and feedback.
Cut through the clutter
We get it, – not every industry is colourful, exciting and informal. Take B2B industries like finance, technology, and even HR that are saturated with jargon funding, earnings, mergers and acquisitions. They know how inaccessible and obtuse this language can be, even when it’s necessary for doing your job –and that can be used to cut through the noise.
Contrary to popular belief, B2B consumers are more emotionally connected to their vendors, than consumers are to theirs, and almost 50% more likely to buy when there’s a personal, emotional connection, according to a study by Google. It’s no secret that funny campaigns boost recall, and memes, such as MailChimp’s Failchips, are an opportune way to open a channel of communication where your audience can both react and add to the joke. Even better, this can boost that connection and lead to user-generated, brand-centric chatter.
How can brands guarantee that their meme-mentous efforts do not go awry?
The 4-Step Guide To Creating Memingful Content
1. Know your brand well
Make sure that at the end of the day, you’re not telling two stories and going against the key messages of your brand. Getting swept up in meme trends just to get a pizza the share-of-voice pie, and forsaking your brand’s personality in the process is embarrassing, to say the least
Knowing your brand doesn’t have to be rocket science. Take this ad from Wonderful Pistachios – they conveyed their brand values simply, used the (arguably timeless) Keyboard Cat meme right, and it certainly cracks you up.
Keyboard Cat’s Wonderful Pistachios Commercial!
2. Be familiar with your audience
Being sensitive to your audience’s psychographic profiles is key. Knowing what makes them tick is just as important as knowing what makes them laugh. Some things are common sense – it’s never funny to make jokes that spread racism, sexism and homophobia, or at the victims of crises, such as war or natural disasters.
Some nuances, however, are harder to grasp as the world of memes revolves faster each day. Fast-food giant and renowned Twitter spit-roaster Wendy’s allegedly failed to catch wind that the long popular Pepe the Frog meme was recently adopted as a white supremacist hate symbol, and came under fire when it posted a Wendy’s lookalike Pepe meme. That’s why it’s important to stay up-to-date with cultural awareness.
3. Jump onto trending topics and formats
Sometimes, you don’t have to be a punny genius to create a meme that resonates with your audience. Thankfully, there are some cheat sheets for making memes.
- Graphic Frameworks
Back in 2012, there were the “Y U NO” captions that took the internet by storm. But we’ve moved on, and we will continue to do so. Thankfully, fried chicken franchise Jack in The Box found the missing piece.
- Audio clips
Memes can come in the form of images, sounds, videos, and even phrases. In the age of multimedia, the roaring success of Tiktok videos and Instagram Reels have cemented the reign of vertical videos. A visceral force behind such videos are the audio clips used that drive home the top-of-mind-recall. What’s different today is that trending sounds, such as this season’s ubiquitous Material Gworl audio clip, can be easily adapted into one’s own videos on major social media platforms.
Users actively search out trending sound clips, so hopping onto one can be an easy and strategic way to use audio memes for your branding. However, do consider that some trending audios are NSFP – not safe for publishing. These may include tracks that contain expletives or racial slurs, which you probably don’t want your brand being associated with.
- Trending filters
Similar to audio, trending filters can also be harnessed by brands. For example, by using TikTok’s native greenscreen filter to convey witty scenarios and a sassy brand personality, airline Ryanair soared to over 1.6 million followers and more than 13.6 million likes.
- Trending phrases
At the start of 2021, the lofty ideals of live, laugh, love were overthrown, and a new queen meme was in town – the phrase, Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss that took over Twitter, then the rest of the social media world. However, if you want to deploy a phrase, it needs to line up with context of use and more importantly, social media managers should double-check if the phrase is even still trending.
The reality of microtrends today may signal short-lived campaigns. McDonald’s made that mistake by hopping on this text format incorrectly, and to make matters worse, six whole years too late.
Indeed, say no more.
If you value longevity over virality then you might want to consider banking on formats or topics that – in the words of Miss Swift – will never go out of style.
Perfect before you publish
While memes, in consumption, are a casual affair, making sure the humour lands right is something you should take seriously. A great way to ensure this is by doing an acid test with your coworkers and friends of a similar demographic and psychographic profile as your audience.
So take a breath, relax, take in the tweaks and try again. Don’t try too hard, though.
Need help creating meme-orable content? Talk to us at [email protected].