To be or not to be funny

December 09th, 2019

You’ve navigated the various social platforms and decided which ones serve your audience.

You’re ready to type up your first email blast, social post, and blog. It’s time to engage your audience.

Should you start with a joke?

How will your audience respond? Will they get the punchline? You want to be seen as relatable, accessible, and fun.


To be fun, you need to be funny, right?

Maybe not.

Being funny, especially as your brand voice, can be a significant risk. My humor may be different from your humor -- now expand that to thousands of people and to different personalities. An innocent quip on my end may be misinterpreted by my audience, or even more dangerous, I may come across as insensitive.

Some forms of media also don’t lend themselves to humor. A comedian can be both funny and crass because irreverence is an expectation of the entertainment industry. If your brand is irreverent, sarcastic, or silly, will your audience give it a pass, or will they be caught off-guard? That’s going to depend on your product or service. A soap shop making “naked” innuendos to sell their fully plant-based soap is far different from an accounting firm making “naked” innuendos. One industry might expect it, while the other might be shocked.


So should you be funny?

Instead of thinking you have to be funny to be fun, realize that “fun” might not be a strong brand voice, especially if it’s lacking a clear direction. Try for something more specific:

  • Casual
  • Caring
  • Flexible
  • Outspoken
  • Stylish
  • Surprising
  • Warm

If your accounting firm decides to be “caring, flexible, and warm,” you have a much more solid understanding of the direction your brand voice will be. And here’s the best part: those adjectives still allow you to be fun or lighthearted. Where other accounting firms might use paragraphs of technical speak, your firm speaks directly to the easy-to-understand, personal benefits for your clients. Your firm emphasizes your relationships and community involvement. Your firm might not be “funny,” but that’s okay because you’ve found the brand voice that communicates well with your audience and displays your company’s strengths.

Don’t feel pressured for your company or brand to be funny on social media or other marketing touchpoints. If humor fits well with your industry, definitely give it a try, but if your audience isn’t expecting snark and sarcasm, don’t force a potentially destructive brand voice. Instead, know that it’s okay to not use humor and to instead pursue other personable characteristics.