Remember Me! Please?
A hamburger and a ping pong ball with a face on it don't have much in common. Yet when you see one of those little balls on someone's car antennae you immediately think of Jack in the Box burgers. Why? Because the company has spent considerable time, effort and resources to draw an indelible link between that image and the company itself. Your brain is now helpless to consider the two linked at the most fundamental level. Voila, that's branding.
Branding comes in all shapes and sizes, from iconic sports figures selling shoes to little innocent jingles you can never seem to get out of your head. Most companies don't have the financial resources to hire celebrities and athletes, and if you spend any time listening to local radio, you know the mocking dangers of using a poorly constructed or performed song to promote your company. So, how can you participate in the wonderful world of branding for cheap? I would argue you have two options: a good logo and a good laugh.
If you'll humor me, I'm going to leave the first option for someone else to tackle later, and focus briefly on the second. Laughter is one of the most powerful emotive expressions we humans can make, and in the moment we decided to guffaw, our minds draw a connection between the thing we see and the sense of pleasure or joy. I don't want to get all physiological on you, but suffice to say, making people laugh is a good thing. It's even better if that mirth is associated with your company.
A few of us at Pushing7 recently endeavored to employ this concept in helping a national trade association (SBCA - www.sbcindustry.com), build its brand around a recognizable figure: a typical company owner. With the moniker, "Mr. Truss," we developed a character who could bring humor to otherwise dry engineering-related subject matter. An example video that we did recently is included below. You can see some of his videos on Mr. Truss's YouTube channel.
Unfortunately, not everyone's sense of humor is the same, and what one person finds funny, another may find insulting or just blah. So the most important step when employing humor to build a brand is to know your market audience. In this case, we were able to recognize the largely blue-collar nature of the association members we were trying to reach. Knowing that, we could rely on self-effacing humor, and to a lesser degree, slight slap-stick, to generate a positive reaction.
We also added a side-kick, or "straight-man" to the mix named Mac. While mirroring Laurel and Hardy set-ups from the past, Mac allowed us to spoon feed valuable information to our audience without taking Mr. Truss out of character. Finally, by adding a general tone of, "we don't take ourselves too seriously," the Mr. Truss venture appears to be on the road to success.
In the realm of branding, a laugh is worth a thousand dollars (or considerably more). It's a good thing to consider.