Being Witty can make you more memorable, but what exactly is Witty and what are some examples?
“Witty” is the “W” in the “WISER” methodology outlined in my new book, The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share (with an incredible Foreword by Ann Handley!). WISER stands for Witty, Immersive, Shareable, Extraordinary, and Responsive, and it represents the core components of experiences that customers want to talk about.
Witty is not about being funny. Humor can be dangerous since it is different for different people. What one person finds funny, another person might find offensive, or vice versa. So it’s not about being a standup comedian with your brand. A very small number of brands—Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Old Spice, and Charmin come to mind—can get away with humor as a defining aspect of their image. More than likely, though, you don’t work for a brand like that.
Being Witty is a little bit different; it’s about being clever, using language to your advantage, and refusing to be boring.
Every time we communicate with customers, it’s an opportunity to create and experience, even if it’s just to put a smile on someone’s face. So much of corporate communication, whether it’s marketing, legal, digital, or something else, is bor-ing. It doesn’t have to be, though. It’s OK to have some fun with your customers and show some brand personality at the same time.
Some companies have started being Witty within their product offerings.
Being Witty in B2C: bubly™ Sparkling Water
For example, bubly™ Sparkling Water, a product of PepsiCo, added fun messages to its cans—a different one for each flavor. According to the press release at the product launch in 2018:
Each bubly flavor features bright, bold packaging, unique smiles for every flavor, and comes with its own Witty greeting on the tab (like “Hey u,” “hiii,” and “yo”) and personal messages on the can (such as “I feel like I can be open around u,” “hold cans with me,” and “love at first phssst”), for maximum enjoyment and smiles.
The first thing most consumers notice is the greeting on the tab because it is strategically placed right where their finger goes to open the can. The fact that each flavor has a different message definitely elicits a smile. The beauty of the campaign? It succeeds in establishing a humanlike relationship between the consumer and . . . a can of sparkling water.
It’s also brilliant in its simplicity. After all, it’s just a few words atop or on the side of a can that already had other printing on it. It’s clever, memorable, and shows off the brand’s personality. A friend pointed out that the tab messages replaced the standard hole that apparently—though I had never heard of this—was meant for a straw. So that must have required a minor production change, but it was well worth the investment. In fact, PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta told analysts in July 2019 that bubly “is going to be one of our next billion-dollar brands.”
Manwich® Bold Sloppy Joe Sauce
The back of Conagra’s Manwich® Bold Sloppy Joe Sauce cans include four simple instructions for preparation that are also Witty:
- Cook 1 lb. of meat (thoroughly)
- Add Manwich sauce!!!!
- Ask to be called Chef to anyone who addresses you
- Serve, dig in, & leave hunger behind
I literally laughed out loud when I read the part about asking to be called “Chef,” and then of course I asked my kids to refer to me as Chef for the rest of the evening. Also, four exclamation points is just great. The experience difference between these fun cooking instructions and a typical recipe is immense, yet the cost or effort to make the change was minimal. You want to strive for these kind of experience changes in your business.
One last food example in case you are still hungry: My good friend Heath Schecter, who actually is a chef (and author of i’m a chef & my kids want buttered noodles: a collection of recipes), likes to play around with unexpected food pairings that show off his sense of humor. Coming from a Jewish background, he has a particular affinity for mixing typical Jewish food with atypical nonkosher ingredients. One favorite? Bacon-wrapped matzo balls. You can bet they always get a laugh from both the Jewish and non-Jewish crowds, and in case you are wondering, they are incredible.
Being Witty in B2B: Slack
Anybody that uses Slack, the business communication platform now owned by Salesforce, is greeted with a Witty welcome message when they open the software. It says, “Please enjoy Slack responsibly.” It’s not supposed to make you laugh out loud, but it’s a clever play on beer, wine, and liquor advertisements, which include “Please enjoy responsibly” in the legally mandated disclaimer language at the bottom.
If it gets people to start their day with a smile, it’s a win for the product.
It also conveys that the Slack brand has a personality. It’s a fun company, one with which it is enjoyable to do business. Incidentally, Slack also lets administrators add their own personalized welcome messages, which can be rotated on a daily basis to inspire or inform employees as they start their day.
None of these Witty examples is complicated or expensive. Most are just friendlier and quirkier than what we would expect, and that exceeding of expectations is exactly what makes a remarkable customer experience.
Exclusive excerpt from The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share (2021: Morgan James Publishing). Reprinted with permission. The book is available on Amazon and at other fine retailers. BUBLY, the Bubly Designs and the Bubly Marks are trademarks. Used with permission in the book. Main image by Omar Medina Films from Pixabay. Links to books are affiliate links that generate a (very) small commission to this website but which do not affect your cost.