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What Makes Us Remember

Take a moment to think back on one of your favorite ads from the past year. It’s most likely a favorite because it triggered an emotional connection. That connection made an impression, which ultimately made the ad memorable. Some really great ad campaigns make us feel excitement, sadness, or sympathy. Ads that caused a full toothed smile, genuine chuckle, or tears from laughing too hard are in their own category. When trying to sell your services or products, emotional branding can really make you stand out.

Jake from State Farm

Since the commercial first aired, “Jake from State Farm” has grown to become a household name. As part of State Farm’s “Get to a Better State” campaign, the commercial shows how customers can feel uneasy about insurance at any time, even 3:00 am. Building on a foundation of humanization, the marketers engineered Jake for memorability. This fictional person now has a verified Twitter account with over 41,000 followers. The emotional branding went a long way in solidifying State Farm’s reputation as an insurance conglomerate with a relatable personality. Among the millions of advertisements people see daily, humor and being relatable remove the feeling of being bombarded. It makes your business genuine, which makes customers choose to welcome you into their lives.

Risk and Reward

Successful advertising is a science that requires risk. The benefits to successful humorous advertising are virtually unlimited. However, when your humor is not successful, there can be major backlash. The six dos and don’ts below can help you navigate the fine line of incorporating humor into your campaigns.

  1. Don’t over-analyze a humorous idea. It is either funny or it’s not. If you don’t think it’s funny the first time, chances are your target audience won’t find it funny, either.
  2. Don’t use humor gratuitously. Humor must be relevant to the primary objective of your campaign. How will humor help you reach your goal?
  3. Don’t just “wing it”. Successful witty humor comes from knowing fine details and understanding specific insights about your audience. This shows you the boundaries you should not cross so you can avoid being unintentionally offensive.
  4. Do use humor to entertain. People love to be entertained in general, but especially during their spare time. Be the funny content in their feed while they’re hanging out with friends on a Friday night, standing in shopping lines on Saturday afternoons, or lazing around the house on Sunday mornings.
  5. Do engage your audience’s imagination. Think daydreams or anecdotes; their dreams may be even bigger than yours. (We doubt State Farm knew how infamous Jake would be, even if they planned for him to be memorable).
  6. Do test humorous concepts rather than focusing on techniques. Slapstick, irony and wordplay are all techniques, but they don’t stand alone. Use them to deliver the core message.

Lasting Power

Regardless of your industry, services or products, one thing common to almost all audiences is that they want to laugh. Grab their attention and fill it with what you have to offer. Comedy travels farther and faster than clever calls-to-action or campaigns that trigger other emotions. Modern advertising capitalizes on the fact that surprising humor is timeless. Great jokes remain relevant long after the commercial has ended, the billboard has passed, or the event is over. People remember what made them laugh. Don’t be afraid to use emotional branding so they remember you.

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