Why Your Brand Needs Humour

Why Your Brand Needs Humour

“Though this writer has to be content with his inability to grow facial hair, he walks away convinced that humour, when done right, lends to building a successful brand, and that’s almost as good as having a glorious beard.” – Wes Fischer, CEO of digital marketing agency NTWRK.

No two people are created the same, and for this writer, that is especially true when it comes to shaving. Having inherited genes that made it almost impossible to grow a respectable beard or moustache, shaving – and the frustrations associated with it – have never been an issue.

Still, this writer entertained the idea of grooming his non-existent facial hair and set off in search of top brands providing quality products. The search led to the discovery of Dollar Shave Club (DSC), a direct-to-consumer subscription service for razors and other assorted grooming products.

The price was reasonable for the convenience they provide, the products look great, and the reviews did a great job at providing a final push to subscribe. Alas, there was still no facial hair that needed to be groomed to warrant a purchase.

Yet, this writer found himself revisiting DSC’s website over the course of months. Because if there’s one thing that DSC knows how to do, and do well, is build a brand that people love and can connect with emotionally – a great feat that no doubt contributed to its acquisition by Unilever for a whopping USD 1 billion.

In a market dominated by Gillette (owned by Procter & Gamble), the acquisition not only positions Unilever as the second largest player in a market expected to grow 3 per cent globally year-on-year through 2020.

DSC’s flexible business model, strong brand, and strong community of loyal fans also makes it easier to cross-sell its other offerings of men’s grooming products – a stark contrast to the digitally out-of-touch brand that is Gillette.

So how did Dollar Shave Club do it?

It all began with its startup launch video titled “Our Blades Are F**king Great” featuring its founder Michael Dubin that takes viewers on a tour through their warehouse while touting the benefits of DSC.

Sounds like another typical introduction video, but what made this video marketing gold is the absurdity of having a toddler shaving a man’s head, a machete, polio jokes, and a bear suit. Definitely not a typical introduction video.

“DSC wasn’t the first brand to find success by not taking themselves too seriously. We’ve seen it done before. Old Spice, a brand that used to invoke an image of elderly gentlemen, is now a brand that continues to dominate the online space.

Their video The Man Your Man Could Smell Like captured 75 per cent of online conversations when it launched and to date has a whopping 56 million views. Old Spice also increased their Twitter followers by 2,700 per cent, Facebook interactions by 800 per cent, and website traffic by 300 per cent . Sales in the first three months following the video were up by 55 per cent , reaching 107 per cent in the final month of the campaign. Old Spice had successfully transformed their brand, capturing the attention of younger audience,” says Wes.

More importantly, the success of both videos highlights two important points that many brands should consider incorporating – to some degree – in their content marketing strategy… video content and humour.

Video content

Video content is a great way to increase brand awareness and keeping your brand top-of-mind. To date, DSC’s launch video has amassed more than 26 million views and continues to be cited as a good example of a brand video done right.

Brightcove’s 2018 Video Marketing Survey found that 53 per cent of consumers engage with a brand after viewing one of their videos on social media. When it comes to millennials, this number increases to 66 per cent.

Then, according to Forbes, videos are more captivating than text with 95 per cent of viewers more likely to remember a call to action after a watching a video, compared to 10 per cent when reading it in text format.

For DSC, their launch video brought in more than 12,000 customers within the first two days of it being published.

“If a well-executed video can bring in those numbers in 2012, imagine the results now, in the space of seven years the majority of global internet consumption is video,” the NTWRK CEO says.


Not every brand can do humour, and not every brand should. But according to Dr. James Barry, a professor at Nova Southern University and co-author of the research paper “A typological examination of effective humour for content marketing”, infusing humour into content works very well not just in business-to-consumer (B2C) but business-to-business (B2B) spaces. That’s because CEOs and other top-level executives appreciate being entertained just like everyone else.

“Indeed, humour is not only attention-grabbing, but makes your brand more relatable, trustworthy, and human. There is even research that suggests that humour is linked to higher recall, making it easier for your target audience to remember the message and call to action embedded in your content.”

However, before you take a page out of DSC’s book and venture an attempt at humour, it’s important to know that DSC not only aims to entertain but to also educate, thereby creating content that adds value to its readers.

Even with seemingly absurd articles sporting titles like “What Do My Testicles Do All Day?” and “Why Do I Always Wake Up When My Dreams Start Getting Sexy?”, DSC layers humour with facts, creating an engaging and educational read on topics that could otherwise be too “dry” to keep readers engaged.

While it may seem like a risky bet at the time, DSC’s bold move to inject humour into its launch video – and its subsequent use of humour in all its content – has clearly made it stand out in a competitive market. Since its launch in 2012, the business has seen its subscriber base grow to 3.2 million and have sold millions of razors and other grooming products.

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