How important is humour in brand-positioning?

  • In most parts of the world, luxury or premium goods stay away from embracing humour into the communication mix. Does incorporating humour give the firm an impression of being flippant and ‘not serious enough’ to be premium? LinkedIn question by: Sameer Vyas

Humour used in the context of explaining the differentiating benefits of the product or service definitely contributes to sales and long term brand recall. However humour should not be used as a part of the positioning for the brand – it should rather be used as a means to achieve / contribute to that positioning. e.g. if a brand’s benefit positioning is “Brand X makes me enjoy my home life in a lively manner” – Then humour could be used to drive suggestions towards “lively manner’, and could be retained for a long time as a differentiator among competitors’ benefits .

In case of luxury or premium goods, humour has not been used frequently, perhaps because the form of humour fitting these categories is not very easy to make a direct association to the benefits / positioning of the brand among premium customers. Long ago, a small premium Ericsson phone ad showed a sophisticated lady in a premium restaurant talking to her fiance on the phone, while fixing her gaze at a person sitting on a different table. However the phone was too small; hence this person thought she was proposing a dinner with him – till the moment she finished the call, and said: “One black coffee please”. The ad (see below) had excellent recall and contributed to the premium positioning of the product.

(The ad went on to win the Lion at Cannes Advertising Festival. Read about this ad. Also see Heinz example)

Therefore, it’s all a matter of finding how the benefits of a premium product could be associated to the sophisticated humour levels enjoyed by the prospective customers of the product, and translating this association into communication – thru ad or otherwise. Humour is a means to an end – not an end by itself, while positioning a brand.

Also look for Other Answers in LinkedIn.

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About shantanu.sengupta
I'm a passionate Strategic Marketing professional who deeply understands the interplay of Technology, Collaboration and Design that drives brand innovation and growth in a post-recession world today. I believe that marketing solutions cannot be found by referring to historical case studies, esp. since no two marketing problems are the same. As a result, instead of adhering to a jargonised approach to marketing, I follow Design Thinking principles, challenge existing norms and processes, and search for innovative ways to solve marketing problems. I specialize in developing and implementing marketing and communication strategies across B2C and B2B channels, with a clear focus on brand development and customer engagement that increases future brand value.

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