Why We Can’t Help but Love Funny Companies

June 13, 2014

9:06 am

This post includes extra content from Startup Mixology, my upcoming book on starting up – including how to prepare yourself for the harsh reality and celebrate positive moments along the way. Go here to pre-order the book (due July 8) and subscribe to updates!

Are you funny? I am; well, not always – but I appreciate humor and a good joke.

Last week I wrote about how being human is a great way to connect with your community on social media. Humor is another way to help build a bridge to your customers and users. If you’re fun and charismatic and it makes sense for your brand, then let it show.

People like funny companies the same way we like funny people: in a 2009 study, women rated funny men more intelligent, honest, and attractive. Google is a great example of a company with a sense of humor. For example, searching for “recursion” on Google brings up the prompt “Did you mean recursion?” That’s funny, right? Good-spirited humor is compelling.

I bet that if you saw any of the following April Fool’s jokes, you immediately liked the brand just a little bit more. On April 1, 2013, Google announced Google Street Roo, where a kangaroo would go around Australia and capture Street View images. They also debuted Google Nose, search results with smell! And YouTube announced that the whole site had just been a competition for the best video, and it would be shutting down and picking the winner (my personal favorite).

Obviously, you want to make sure you don’t offend anyone with your humor, but sometimes playing on the edge can work. Just watch videos of the Orabrush (a venture-backed tongue scraper!), which have garnered tens of millions of views, to see how their edgy humor conveys their personality and says something about their audience, too.

The bottom line here is to understand your audience and what would attract or offend them. Humor is a little risky, but that’s why it’s right up startups’ alley.


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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups.

Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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