Humour In Branding – Why Does It Sometimes Fail

Strange indeed is the case of humour in branding. If rightly used, it can deliver astounding results but if wrongly used, it can cause a major debacle to the fortunes of the brand itself.

Several examples point towards attempts to create humour in branding. However, not all attempts are successful. In many cases, the humour falls flat, causing major embarrassment to the brand. Take for example, the ‘break-up’ TVC campaign of OLX that failed to live up to the expectations of the brand. OLX has always created humour and wit in the past but in this campaign they failed to hold on to the same enthusiasm through the film. Although it did receive some traction because of the unique method of presenting the film, the mediocre content didn’t let that last long.

Absurd challenges

Yes, it is true that branding in the modern scenario faces a ton of absurd challenges. Many a times, the all-vital message that you want your branding effort to deliver to the target audience gets lost in the clutter and din of the modern market place.

Present-day consumers are increasingly getting wary of the all too common marketing tactics deployed repeatedly. Therefore, many brands try to evoke emotion in the form of humour in their message.

A lot of thought and deliberation goes into creating humour, but some brands do not get it right all the time. For such brands, it is like telling a bad joke repeatedly again – or worse still, experiencing a bad date with someone you do not want to be associated.

Genuineness and Suitability

Brands that attempt humour need to have a genuine timbre attached to their message. Alongside, appropriateness and suitability is also a much desirable element. Besides, the message conveyed via humour needs to be fresh and meaningful so that the brand voice remains clear.

Frankly, it is tough to make people emotional despite being witty. Thus, some brands bite the dust when they attempt humour, because although they attempt to make people laugh, they miss vital elements like imagination and intelligence. The result is bland corporate speak without the engagement, empathy and the ‘human’ element.

Human Condition

Brands that wish to communicate humour need to have a deep understanding of the human condition. It is often said that it is not possible to convey humour unless you are very serious about the humour you want to convey itself. Sometimes, the message that brands want to deliver could take a wrong connotation. In 2015, Bic pens conveyed the following message through an ad on National Women’s Day (South Africa), which looked witty, but ended up with an inconceivably sexist message.

Pretentiousness

Being pretentious is the last thing that brands would want to do. Nobody wants to be taken for a ride or have wool be thrown over his eyes. An executioner cannot joke around when he has a job to do – hanging a convict. On the other hand, a bank that jokes about investor money is only eroding its customer base and destroying its brand. Brands that fail at being honest fail at conveying their message – no one likes a liar.

Closely connecting with people is the key to humour branding. It takes sheer grit and understanding to relate to the target market on one hand and on the other – what you are trying to achieve. Often, the corporate machines that organizations have turned in to these days lose connect with their audience and miss the point because they have lost that crucial human touch. Thus, humour in branding remains a vital strategy even today but care must be taken that the aforementioned points are thoroughly incorporated in the branding effort.

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