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Are we Losing Brand Individuality at the Expense of Humour?

Updated: May 30

As brands compete to be the most witty, most hip, and with numbers spiking with humour-fuelled success… I ask, where has the individuality gone in a brand voice? Is it dead? Can it be revived? Even at the expense of a few 'lols'?

It really seems like many brands are stripping back their quirks to make way for minimalistic logos and sarcastic gestures. In the ‘top best brand voices’, for example, each brand sounds the same. Are they really then the best brand voices if they all sound the same?

Sarcasm and wit is everywhere now. It’s in your baked-bean-covered cereal, your honest smoothies, and in court fighting copy-caterpillar cases. Now, I'm not saying humour isn't a great medium - we could all do with more humour. However, I think brands have had a sniff at humour-led success and forgotten their roots. Instead, let's see brands paving their own unique voice and embracing their own quirks,. To do that they need to start looking inwards and not outwards.

As outlined by Daisy Atkinson from The Drum, ‘brand tone of voice is often something that is overlooked focusing instead on the brand colours, fonts and not the actual verbal expression. Often resulting in brands adopting the ‘most simplest, most broadly acceptable style of writing - the one which follows the basic principles of using the active voice, simple terminology and only 8-10 words per sentence - which in the history of iconic rhetoric has never set the world on fire.’

Why wouldn’t you want to set the world on fire hey? A great brand can bring about positive change to the world but it's not going to do that if its not being seen, heard and remembered. Memorability is therefore key and a similar tone of voice isn't going to achieve that.

Take Betty Crocker for instance, she is a curly haired lady from the 1800s/1900s (a made up person may I add) who sounds like every other social media account. Why?

In the Victorian era you would find phrases such as ‘chuckaboo’ to describe a close friend or ‘giggle mug’ to describe a 'habitually smiling face' or ‘mad as hops’ to express excitement. All incredibly fun words and phrases that are relevant to the brands heritage, brand mascot and could overall creatively enhance their brand voice.

Instead, peering at this Instagram post, I see rhetorical questions and forced excitement. A lack of the very warmth home-baking inhabits. Where is Betty Crocker in this post? Someone tell Betty to get her feet up off the hot stove and put some more heart into her posts. Maybe then we’ll believe the company is getting in the Christmas spirit. Maybe then I’ll believe that brand voice isn’t dead.

To have a pulse, great brands need to have their own voice, their own individual character. A character fuelled by empathy, emotion, a unique story, and market research. A character that rocks up to the corner of Albert Square and the dun dun duns chimes. But, how do we get there?

We question the existing, the ordinary, paying extra attention to make it extraordinary and paying closer attention to our own unique advantages. And if you have non then you create some!

The more questions we ask, the more places our brands can venture to.


My theory is that individuality, in brand voices, have been jabbed at with witty-shaped knives due to a business' insecure need for success. Humour is an easy path to that. We've seen an incredible amount of brands, for example, jumping onto comedic opportunities for a quick trending win at the expense of brand. Although some have done this very well.

So, although humour can be beneficial, the authentic, creative and distinctive voice amongst a multitude of noise, in my opinion, will live the longest.

Thank you for reading. If you would like to work together on your own brand identity and brand voice then feel free to reach out for a virtual cuppa >>>

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