Ask DN: Is it okay for a design software startup to use humor in communication?

6 years ago from , CEO

Let me explain really quick: We built a web app that makes client reviews easy. Clients and co-workers just click and comment to give feedback to your designs, videos and audios in the browser.

We think about to add some gifs to our email notifications in our Filestage web app (https://filestage.io/ ). We want to make the gifs funny and encouraging. Like a little reward for finishing a project.

Here's an example: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9l35Y_hl9CIbWNSd01aTWtFMTg/view?usp=sharing

What do you think about that? Is some humor okay for a B2B software company? Or do think it’s better to stay serious?

Our target group: designers, ad agencies, film production firms, creative freelancers


  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, 6 years ago (edited 6 years ago )

    It's ok and sometimes needed to be humorous, but in the case of using gifs... I would say no. Its overused and not funny anymore. You see it everywhere, tumblr, reddit, facebook - people even put them into videos. I personally associate the usage of those gifs with low quality and try hard - similar to the Hillary Clinton vine. "Just Chilling in Cedar Rapids".

    8 points
  • Dan SherrattDan Sherratt, 6 years ago

    Intercom, Marvel and Dropbox all spring to mind as modern companies who have found a nice balance in this, they largely show humour through illustrations, but their copy is to the point and relevant to the situation.

    For example password reset emails should be short and to the point. Product update emails should be personal, like a conversation.

    5 points
  • Account deleted 6 years ago

    MailChimp. Look them up, read about them (there a bajillion case studies, book chapters, etc) and learn. They are pretty much the first brand to take it to heart and do it right at every single touchpoint.

    In the end, to do it effectively, it needs to feel authentic and consistent - everywhere.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of silly recycled stuff like the mockup. It skews too much toward immaturity. Slapping a trendy GIF doesn't make me feel any better about a status update. If you're gonna do it - take the time to design your own fun animations from scratch and make it a part of your overall voice and brand.

    2 points
    • Niklas Dorn, 6 years ago

      I personally love mailchimp and everything is straight to the point, but uses their language and style. We haven't thought about to create our own fun animations, but I have the feeling that this would be way more authentic and could have a lot more impact.

      Btw I found this great article published by Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2014/05/leading-with-humor. It presents research about humor in communication from institutions like MIT and Wharton.

      They also quote some broader recommendations summarized at the end of The Humor Code:

      • It’s not whether or not you’re funny, it’s what kind of funny you are. Be honest and authentic.
      • If you can’t be “ha-ha” funny, at least be “aha!” funny. Cleverness is sometimes good enough.
      • Good comedy is a conspiracy. Create an in-group.
      • Don’t be afraid to chuckle at yourself. It signals everything is okay.
      • Laughter is disarming. Poke fun at the stuff everyone’s worried about.

      Especially the point of being honest and authentic is a major factor in every (corporate) communication.

      0 points
  • James Qualtrough, 6 years ago

    I think it depends on your overall brand tone of voice. If you have used humour throughout and it is your style/voice then it is totally appropriate. I'm not too keen on the gifs as others have already said and perhaps it needs to be a little more sophisticated and tailored specifically to the touchpoint it sits alongside. It will only add value if it sits with your brand, otherwise I'd avoid it.

    1 point
  • Rasmus ErikssonRasmus Eriksson, 6 years ago

    I sometimes go to Statamic's website for the humour, not to learn. I think it's totally okay. :D

    But basically: what Vincent Bé said.

    1 point
  • Saurabh M, 6 years ago

    In general, I think it's nice to work in some gentle humour in communications. In this particular case, I'd be careful though. I'd be nervous as a freelancer with the humour being sent in emails to some of my clients who might not appreciate it or might be ticked off by the non-seriousness of the tool (I'm working with one these days, so it comes to mind).

    1 point
  • Timothy Lillis, 6 years ago

    Gifs aren't funny. Funny gifs are funny.

    0 points
  • Csaba Kissi, 6 years ago

    Avoid those stupid GIFs. This is really boring already. Try to be creative and come with something new.

    0 points
  • Vlad Burca, 6 years ago

    I think it is totally OK to use humor/jokes. I mean, like in real life, the easiest way to make yourself pleasant (or at least give you a neutral feel) at the very first stage of communication with a (total) stranger is by telling a joke.

    0 points