We all have that one friend who takes themselves too seriously and therefore never lets loose or has fun. They’re great to have around when you need to think about things from a mature standpoint, but when it comes to taking our mind off those things, we turn away from them and go to our other friends who love amusement parks and blowing off some steam.

Brands do the same thing; some of them take themselves way too seriously. It almost makes me feel like saying, “You do realize you sell [insert consumer good here], not uranium or something equally crucial, right?” However, there are also companies that know exactly what they’re selling and who their target market is — and these companies are the ones that truly deserve your attention.

Old Spice

Old Spice always gets their man.

Since Isaiah Mustafa made his debut as the Old Spice man in February 2010, this brand has seen an upswing in brand recognition from customers. If you’ve ever seen one of their commercials, you’ll know why. They know they’re a personal hygiene company geared towards men, but instead of advertising towards men they advertise towards their girlfriends and wives by claiming that Mustafa is “the man your man could smell like.” Old Spice doesn’t try to be anything that they’re not, and they don’t pretend to be the greatest company that has ever existed (well they do, but they do it in a tongue-in-cheek way). They realize that their audience isn’t looking for them to give a list of twenty reasons why their product is superior to their competitors. Give them something to laugh about and talk to their friends about later and you’ll have a following!

Burger King

BK knows who they are and they’re not afraid to show it!

No matter which marketing campaign Burger King is using, chances are that customers are taking notice. They have a King in royal clothing running around the streets of New York City in one commercial and in another they’ll have a Whopper telling you to “man up” and eat a Whopper covered with cheese and jalapenos. No matter which direction they take, they have a campaign style for it; funny, quirky, off-the-wall and just plain random (remember the Burger King cologne?) They know who they are and they know their market (18-24 year old males). They don’t take themselves too seriously and are always trying something new with their campaigns.

30 Rock

30 Rock never loses their sense of humor – about themselves or otherwise.

If you haven’t watched this NBC Thursday-night hit, you’re missing out. It’s been hailed by Entertainment Weekly as not only “the best comedy on TV this year” but as “simply the best TV!” The show is told through Tina Fey’s character’s (“Liz Lemon”) voice as a head writer for the TGS with Tracy Jordan show, and it features Alec Baldwin (“Jack Donaghy”) as a big-wig network executive. Tracy Morgan (“Tracy Jordan”) also stars in this Emmy-winning show portraying the unpredictable star of TGS. Between Lemon juggling corporate interference from Donaghy and the bizarre and fickle antics from Jordan, she still attempts to salvage her own personal life. As Joe mentioned in a blog about product placement, this show tops the list for cleverness. However, since it’s filmed like a show within a show, they’re able to get away with things that most other television shows out there could never do. It’s truly a fun show to watch because it’s not a bunch of egotistical actors and actresses trying to win as many awards as possible; they look like they have fun filming and it really comes across when the episodes air.

The one thing all these brands have in common is the way they remember what business they’re in and who they’re catering to. They have a unique transparency to them that customers really gravitate toward and become loyal followers of. Rarely do Old Spice users suddenly switch to Axe and there are some die-hard Burger King fans that will drive past McDonald’s to get their Whopper fix. Customers can detect when brands are being true and when they’re just trying to please as many people as possible!

Image credit to Covânt, Alan Fryer, and Steve Clancy.
About the author

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten is a promo expert with a passion for branding . Her vast knowledge of promotional giveaways and marketing has led to several articles and published work for PPB Magazine, a publication from the Promotional Products Association International.