5 Dos and Don'ts of Using Humor in Your Brand
"Laughter is good for the soul," says Eat24 CMO Amir Eisenstein. But the truth is, for the food delivery startup, it's also been pretty good for business.
Slightly outré stunts like publicly breaking up with Facebook and pitching its product to weed smokers with the munchies has earned the company plenty of press and helped it stand out in a highly competitive market. Its quip-filled Twitter feed has garnered nearly 40,000 followers.
Eisenstein might insist the company's humorous voice is a simple outgrowth of the personality of the founders and the vibe around the office ("It's not really strategy. A lot of times, stuff we write is stuff that's actually happened, or stuff that people say around the office," he told Inc.com), but its powerful attention-grabbing properties could tempt other entrepreneurs to stir a little more laughter into their brands. What is Eisenstein's advice for them? He served up several dos and don'ts in a quick interview.
Don't Fake It
Humor works only if it's natural to the founders and the company, according to Eisenstein. "It's not something that I would say, 'this is a good strategy and go and do it.' The strategy is be yourself," he says. So if you find the prospect of cracking wise on Twitter intimidating, you might want to stop reading now. "If you're faking it or you're trying too hard or you're doing stuff that isn't you, people will pick it up," he says.
Do Respect Your Customers
Which leads directly into point two: "Customers are not stupid," Eisenstein points out. Take that into account when crafting your voice. "We try to talk to our customers face to face, at eye level, not to be condescending. We are the same like them," he says.
Do Use Yourself as a Yard Stick
This respect for customers and essential equality with them is the basis for how Eat24 decides what to put out into the world. "For me, I'm my own first client," says Eisenstein. "If I send the material, the content, out and, for me, it's boring or not interesting or just dry, I'm not going to read it myself, so I'm not going to send it to my customers."
His bottom line rule of thumb: "If it makes us laugh, it can pass."
Do Work With the Best
Training for humor is hard if you're not a natural at understanding the brand voice, so Eisenstein stresses the value of hiring exceptionally talented folks who click with the company culture. "I am very, very lucky to have very, very talented people work for me," he says. Introducing the Eat24 approach isn't really about training, procedures, and control; "it's more conveying to them what is the brand voice, what is the mood."
Don't Expect to Never Offend
No matter how good your intentions and awesome your team, when you're cracking jokes, you're going to annoy someone every once in awhile. Consider that the price of admission to this approach. "We try and keep it clean," he says, but "sometimes people get offended. Statistically always, whatever you're going to do, something like this is going to happen. There's always going to be 1 percent that don't get it."
On the odd occasion that someone's feathers are ruffled, don't just ignore that person, advises Eisenstein. "If somebody does get offended for some reason, we do address them back. If we need to apologize, we apologize," he notes.