Funny Business

by Holly VanLaar

Human Connection

Managing your business is a serious endeavor, but when it comes to getting creative with your brand and identity, did you know that humor can actually be one of your greatest assets? 

Brainstorms here at Navigate often erupt in laughter. We sit at a table and let the ideas run…sometimes a little too far. Often, however, our crazy off-the-wall ramblings lead to something incredible. We are excited about these little lightbulbs that cause so much joy. And exploring these possibilities further and tapping away at the part that makes them ridiculous often results in something clients love.

Of course, not everyone has a fun team to help “navigate” through brainstorms, so here is a helpful question to get you to that place where the magic happens: What is the funniest thing you could imagine your brand doing? Really, think about it. What are the specific possibilities? What if you renamed your products something “punny” or ran a poll to see what you should rename your company? How about making a new Instagram account for a company pet/mascot? Or would you dare even to see what happens if you use teen lingo like “yeet” or “lit” in your marketing?

Perhaps your superiors would not find it “okrrrr” (apologies to Cardi B.) to use such humor as an effective way to represent your company. But don’t let that kill your inspiration. Keep going with it (the “Yes, and…” mentality). Bring the pizzazz without the cringe, and tailor that idea more to your audience. Now your creative juices are flowing! 

If you think this is all just wishful thinking, here is something that is really going to blow your mind; Humor helps your focus. In 2015, The Journal of Business and Psychology published the results of an experiment between two groups of people. One watched a funny video and the other watched a slower, more relaxing video. The groups then each tried to complete the same impossible puzzle, but the group who watched the funny video worked longer and harder to complete the puzzle. The study concluded that humor contributes to better health and a more persistent work ethic:

“Humor is not only entertaining but also replenishing. Individuals engaging in activities that require persistence may benefit from exposure to humor. Therefore, organizations that require their employees to persist may consider creating a playful culture that encourages the use of humor to increase employees’ persistence.” – Cheng, D. & Wang, L. J Bus Psychol (2015) 30: 759. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-014-9396-z

That’s pretty good evidence that the workplace should include a funny cat video a day! Of course, the naysayers will point to other evidence, like this study that says it takes 23 minutes to get focused after a distraction. But if that distraction is used as a way to refresh your mind and achieve impactful creative content, I argue that is a low price to pay! Especially because we can glean a lot of creative inspiration from these entertaining short videos that can translate across a variety of marketing platforms. 

So, the next time you’re watching a funny video on your lunch break, think about what your audience is watching on their lunch break. How cool would it be they were enjoying YOUR funny or clever message? Better yet, how thankful would they be if your ad actually helped inspire THEM to be more creative, persistent problem solvers?