Every culture and generation witnesses certain artistic elements that do not gain recognition until they become extinct. Famous artists like Vincent van Gogh, for example, did not receive appreciation for their work until their death. Sadly, some art styles simply remain unrecognized due to unknown reasons.
Art evolves with time and technology, and has continued to do so in the digital era. Where an artist’s materials were formerly limited to paintbrushes and oil paints, the age of the internet has led to a more versatile and creative medium. Memes, for example, is the latest and most popular form of art. They are a global social phenomenon, and an increasingly powerful medium for viral marketing and social engagement.
While they often make us laugh, they also draw attention to a particular topic or purpose through the use of symbols, catchphrases (typically in the form of hashtags), selfies, performative gestures, and several other forms. In fact, many businesses use meme marketing to attract customers with engaging content.
In a time when people skip ads whenever they can, advertising with humor and emotion can engage even the most disinterested clients. While we’ve all enjoyed art memes at some point of time, not many of us have considered using them in our business marketing strategy. Here’s how you can do so, without making your memes sound too light or too dark. But before that, let’s see how including memes in your social media content can prove effective.
Top reasons to use art memes in social media branding
On social media, art memes are usually a GIF or static picture based on a familiar theme, subject, or phenomenon, with text placed on top of or over the illustration. Today, more and more marketers across industries are using memes to connect with the audience and stick to their memory. Here are four strong reasons to include memes in your social media marketing content.
- Art memes are effective yet inexpensive content
Since memes are typically witty takes on content that already exists, the creation process isn’t too costly or complicated. There’s no need for original photos or videos, and one can simply create one by adding a new caption or twist to a relevant and popular image. Another factor which works in favor of many businesses is that memes usually use low-resolution images and are fairly uncomplicated. Although you don’t need to have advanced graphic design skills to create an art meme, an effective, professional design is best conceptualized and executed by a seasoned graphic designer.
- Art memes help boost engagement
Since memes are usually funny, they encourage the readers to share them with their friends and closed groups. This means that the same content is circulated among people for widespread visibility. According to a study, “humorous content is the most shared social content and helps make companies more relatable to audiences.” In these challenging times, everyone wants some good humor and positivity to stay sane and productive. When designed right, memes can make businesses and campaigns more meaningful and relatable.
It is an excellent opportunity for a brand to initiate engagement with the audience, which can eventually lead to greater brand recognition and loyalty. For instance, Seamless, the well-known online food delivery service in the U.S. frequently uses art memes on social media to bond with their audience. They improvised and redesigned movie posters to add some crazy food puns. The Wolf of Wall Street became “The Wolf of Waffle Street.” and American Hustle became “American Muzzles”. Interesting, isn’t it?
- Art memes keep the audience entertained
Customers are best engaged on social media when they’re interested and entertained. For example, Gucci is a luxury fashion house that’s built around an image of grace, class, and sophistication. But for their #TFWGucci 2017 campaign, they chose to take a break from all preconceptions about their brand and build a new image. For this, they decided to post memes to show their fun and quirky side. This was done with an intention to make the brand more friendly, approachable, and reliable.
But, what was this #TFWGucci campaign all about? #TFWGucci, a hashtag used for “That Feeling When Gucci,” was a special campaign designed to promote their new range of watches. There was a series of relatable memes, where Gucci used content that ranged from bizarre to hilarious. They were craftily created in collaboration with designers from around the world. Even the landing page for the campaign featured an exclusive video on the history of memes for those who were new to the concept. The interesting captions along with edgy graphics gave the fashion brand a cool brand makeover.
- Art memes let you be creative
You don’t really need to follow a popular meme that’s trending. More precisely, it can be tough to keep track of all the latest memes. If you have a strong sense of what appeals to your audience, you may consider creating your own art memes. Although this may require more money and effort to use original, quality pictures, it can be worth everything when your audience responds well and starts sharing the memes.
For instance, Doritos Instagram account is loaded with original memes, many of them take us back to the 80s and 90s, addressing their target audience.
If you’re a 80s and 90s kid, you can instantly relate to this.
- Art memes help you show your brand’s personality
There are two options with social accounts – you can either strengthen your current brand personality or use them to create a brand new one. Many big brands have done the latter, using humorous art memes on social media to give their products a fresher look and make them more approachable.
MoonPie is an excellent example. Although the company was launched in 1902, its Instagram account doesn’t make it look like a 118-year-old company. They’ve fabricated a much younger, funnier personality to cater to a wider range of audience.
How to effectively use art memes in your social media branding?
So now that you know the benefits of using memes in your business marketing strategy, it’s time to learn how to execute it. As easy as memes may look and sound, some planning and execution techniques are still required to make your memes credible, relatable, and shareable. Here are a few tips to help you get started with meme content marketing.
- Understand your audience
Have you ever attended a stand-up comedy show where the performer’s jokes failed to keep the audience entertained? They either didn’t understand the jokes, or they found them to be too generic and boring? More often than not, this happens when an entertainer doesn’t create their content for their target audience.
For example, a joke about a retirement plan doesn’t go well with a Gen Z audience. It’s obvious that they’re young and not even thinking about retirement. On the contrary, a joke using terms like OOTD (Outfit Of The Day) will probably not appeal to the older audience. The same rule goes for memes.
Once you know your audience’s age, race, location, cultural background, industry, and other demographics it becomes easier to create relatable content. If you’ve already collected information for your other business marketing initiatives, you can easily use them for creating effective memes that hit the audience’s mind.
- Identify your brand’s personality
As with any digital marketing strategy, memes should reflect your brand’s core values and personality for them to work. For instance, if your brand is all about clothes and fashion accessories, then a meme about politics or the education system is likely to go down poorly with your audience. The reason is obvious, they’ll find your meme to be absolutely irrelevant and lose interest in your social media pots.
Hence, it’s important to understand your business and personalize your memes accordingly to appeal to your target audience. Thus, meme marketing research necessitates understanding your audience and business as the first step. Gucci, for example, used a Renaissance painting to create a viral meme that also stood for the luxury and class that Gucci represents.
- Use original content
Although you may not have the time and resources to get original images, it’s important to get creative with the content. The message should be original, brief, and definitely related to your business or audience. If you’re repurposing someone else’s meme for your audience, drop the idea immediately. It just won’t work. The audience is no fool!
While some brands use memes that tap into the nostalgia factor like Doritos, others use satire or sarcasm to appeal to their audience. There are still others who inject their memes with sheer humor. Funny memes are very effective at making your brand appear more human and friendly. Chipotle, for example, has attracted over a million followers using their funny and often self-deprecating memes and tweets.
This funny art meme is unique in several ways. Firstly, they have added a personal touch to the meme by adding some emojis. This teaches us that you don’t always need to use professional or high-quality images to create interesting memes. Second- the message in the meme is right on point. It puts across that Chipotle is so affordable that you can have them even when you’re broke.
No matter what, it has to be interesting and relatable. If your audience cannot understand your meme or relate to it, you lose your chance to win their trust and engagement. And what most of you might already know, business is nothing without customer engagement and retention. Whether you’re trying to put across a point or get the audience reminiscing about the good old days, consider doing it with humor. If your meme isn’t funny or memorable, it most likely won’t be circulated on social media.
- Take help of a popular art meme
While it’s always good and advisable to come up with unique meme designs and content, once in a while it doesn’t hurt to take help of an already popular meme image or idea. In fact, one of the fastest and most promising ways to go viral is to use meme content related to a latest event (World Cup Cricket League, Olympics and so on) that has garnered global interest.
KFC, for example, hit on the viral “Bird Box” meme around the time of the movie’s release on Netflix by featuring Sandra Bullock with a bucket of chicken as she struggles for survival. Very interesting and creative indeed! Its description read, “The only #BirdBox you need.” This is the kind of customization you must aim for in order to create memorable art memes that are worth sharing. Likewise, you can also personalize your business emails or any other internal communications with such custom memes for better brand building.
Always remember to include your brand’s slogan, objective, or product values to a viral meme’s text for a touch of innovation. This doesn’t just keep the audience entertained but also boost your brand recognition. The famous fast-food brand Ruffles does this in a creative way, as seen in this meme. They do it by giving a modern twist to an old photo.
- Research your art memes before posting
Wendy’s, the famous hamburger joint, typically receives a lot of praise for its social media content. However, even this master of art memes, did commit a mistake at some point of time. On one instance, Wendy’s responded to a consumer’s tweet with a Pepe the Frog meme, an icon that has been synonymous with the white nationalist groups.
Wendy’s removed the post as soon as they realized their mistake, and eventually learned a lesson from this blunder. However, some damage was done to their reputation. Hence, always research your memes before you post them on social media. If done wrong, they can do more harm than good. So, be careful with what you post or share.
When done right, art memes can become a very useful tool in your digital marketing plan. They can help retain your existing customers as well as reach out to new audiences who might have been previously oblivious to your brand. Plus, you can freely create your marketing content without investing a lot of time or worrying too much about keywords. Art memes have a casual, humorous tone that lends a softer, contemporary voice to brands that may have typically been known for their serious personality.
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PJ has a background in management consulting and software development. At DesignBro, he combines both. Personal favorite brand of PJ is Jeep.