Informality is great for creativityOffering creative content is a big deal for digital-facing businesses. There’s so much content out there online, with hundreds of thousands of blog posts being written and distributed each day (often using productivity-enhancing tools), that it’s all but impossible to gain any traction through doing the same things as everyone else. You need to find some type of creative edge — and it’s exceedingly tricky to be creative when you’re rigidly adhering to a traditional type of professionalism. Essentially, throwing in some humor expands your creative scope. It gives you cause to try fresh types of content: to comment on new things, and to address familiar topics in new ways. Instead of your content production process being fundamentally restricted, it can take a flexible approach, adapting to meet the preferences of your audience (if you don’t take yourself too seriously, then you can turn your hand to any type of content).
Case in point: mattress company Casper uses great creative copy (notably asking “What makes our mattresses so snooze-worthy?” in a great subversion of the term) to come across as extremely charming. Without using humor, there’s no way that website would be as compelling as it currently is.
Emotion is a powerful toolWhat drives online buys more than anything else? Leads to the most vicious criticism? Gets an incredible amount of attention? Emotion, of course. We’re emotional creatures, and we may like to think that we make most of our decisions rationally, but that’s a hard case to argue. And since the problem with traditionally business-appropriate language is that it’s so dry and seemingly-indifferent, it’s clear why there’s such significance in openly being emotive. Though various emotions can achieve different effects, humor is particularly good at bringing people together and making them feel connected. When you meet someone you don’t know, you can stand there in icy silence, feeling uncomfortable until one of you cracks a joke — at which point the ice is broken, and you can relax. The same thing goes for your brand. Only when you drop the formality can you seem approachable.
Customers care about shared valuesConsumers in general are increasingly aware of ethical concerns, with social media links and the connectivity of the internet making it easy to not only learn about particular issues but also get some detailed information about how particular companies tend to behave. Combine that with the level of convenience on offer — with almost every type of product being available for purchase from countless different stores and manufacturers — and you have a recipe for buyers being a lot more discerning about the brands they choose to buy from. And though having a sense of humor hardly guarantees that your brand is engaging in ethical behavior, your willingness to be vulnerable (make no mistake — trying to be funny online is certainly showing vulnerability) and the nature of your humor (the tone you strike, and what you choose to mock) can make it abundantly clear what type of business you’re running.
For example, take a look at Cole & Coddle, a store I initially spotted on a store marketplace: the combination of puns and pop-culture references with the family-centric photography clearly implies a specific set of values (e.g. family bonding). If you can show through your humor that you care about the same things as your customers, you’ll take a major stride towards earning their engagement, and ultimately their loyalty.