Humor sells, as does a bit of self-irony. Consumers want to connect on a human level, so companies strive to humanize their brands – to use the brand to convey openness and emotional accessibility. It can work splendidly. Think of the good will Oreo gained from “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark,” its brilliant split-second reaction to this year’s Super Bowl power outage. Think about Google doodles, the creative plays on the Google logo that range from obscure to educational to hilarious that have forged a deep emotional bond between one of the world’s most powerful brands and its users all over the globe.
As these examples show, being playful with your brand has a huge upside. But you’ve also got to do it right. There are risks here, such as the risk of fragmentation and the risk of genericness. Here are some strategies for avoiding the risks and reaping the rewards.