The Business Benefits of Being Goofy | Part 2: Best of Goofy Brands

November 16, 2010 •

Aflac Duck

Last week, I covered some basic business benefits of being goofy, and revealed my inner Harry Potter geek. This week, we’ll look at some real world examples (Will and Mike wouldn’t let me use Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes) of businesses that have built goofy brands.

It may not be possible for every brand to be as quirky and wise as Albus Dumbledore, my personal goofy hero, but there are some brands that come close. Especially in digital and interactive marketing, there are endless opportunities for brands to have some fun. Facebook, Twitter, and corporate blogs practically beg for a little personality.

Here’s a look at five brands that teach us all a little about the art of being goofy:

1. MailChimp. Adding subscribers to email lists is pretty boring. Luckily, MailChimp is there with a little bit of goofiness at each step of the way. Their lovable primate mascot is always at the ready with links to random YouTube videos and more, like this call out:

I thought the only noises they made was "ooh ooh ah ah." And why is he wearing a hat?

2. Aflac. The duck! Even though Aflac’s business is pretty serious – you don’t think laughing out loud when you think accident and illness insurance – Aflac’s brand is about as goofy as can be.  Their website is adorable, but also gets the message across.

3. E*TRADE. Online investing? Ugh, who cares. But E*TRADE, that’s another matter. Yet one more boring business, made lovable by goofiness. Talking babies with smart phones? Who can resist?

4. Google. Google’s powerful online presence is supported by its goofy brand. Whether it’s a holiday specific logo redesign, or the “I’m feeling lucky” feature, Google isn’t afraid to goof off.  And when it comes to love and respect, Google is definitely on the Dumbledore level.

5. Two words: Old Spice.

Any favorites to add to my list? Comment away!

For more background, check out last week’s post, The Business Benefits of Being Goofy Part 1. To learn how to make your business goofy, look out for Part 3, coming next week.

About the Author

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

  • Goofy: Geico’s caveman. Am I a fan? No, but it is memorable in a not-so-great way. To throw out a positive for Geico, the gecko is pretty cool.

  • Erica Barry

    Tracy – Touche’ my friend, touche’. Although you’ve already mentioned my current “fav” of the goofy ads (E*TRADE: “Oh I see,solitary…just a man and his thoughts…with a smartphone…and an E*TRADE app. Nobody knows…” Love it!) I’m thinking all of Geico’s ads could be thrown in this category. From the caveman to the little piggy crying wee wee wee all the way home, I think they’ve hit the nail on the head by making an insurance ad something to look forward to.

    • You and Jamie are on the same level here (my fault for not approving comments more quickly). But yeah…I think the caveman and pig are both memorable, but the Gecko might win for being least obnoxious.

      It’s a good point, though, that when you actually look forward to seeing an ad, the brand is doing something right.

  • Lots of brands have made goofy a big part of their ad campaigns, such as Aflac and Old Spice as you mentioned. Another that jumps to mind is Skittles, they always shoot for goofy or sometimes just nonsensical for their commercials.

  • Samantha

    What about Capital One? Their barbarian men are in the same vein as Geico’s Cavemen.

    Personally, I think Apple does it best. Their Mac vs. PC spots are funny, whitty and clever, great for targeting at a liberal (occasionally young) and smart audience.

    • Can’t say Cap One has caught my attention as much as Geico–I’ll have to look out for them! And yes, Apple commercials always make me smile, and want Apple products. Incredible the power these brands have over everyday decisions.

  • Another great example of goofy marketing in the interactive–and reactive–space, from Jay Baer’s blog, if you’re curious:

  • I agree that being goofy does work many times. I have been known to be a king of cheese!

    But I can say that MailChimp actually annoys me and my colleagues. There is something about it that reminds us of “Clippy” from the Microsoft software of yesteryear, but even worse: his “hip” phrasing is not endearing.

    I can’t say exactly why, but MailChimp just doesn’t hit it for us, even though they try to be cute.

  • Clippy was his name! Oh, wow, did not make that connection at all.

    But yes, the line between goofy and annoying can be very, very fine. I haven’t been using MailChimp for that long, so only time will tell if it starts to annoy me!

  • Tracy, You are on point with your article! Our Duck is fun and memorable. It is amazing how much he helps me achieve the initial meeting with a small business owner, director or HR / Benefits Coordinator. Lets face it, insurance is not the sexiest thing to discuss. The rising costs of health care, the fact that most companies have had to reduce or eliminate benefits to stay profitable leaves a sour taste in the mouth. All I ever need, is a 25 minutes with the decision maker to educate them on what we do at Aflac. Our programs enhance a company’s current benefits package WITHOUT costing another cent and in most cases, we help reduce the amount of payroll taxes a company pays while increasing their employee benefits! Our Duck helps me earn that initial educational session!

    • Scott–thanks for reading, and glad to hear that a goofy brand can help in a hard selling environment. In hard economic times, a little laughter goes a long way.

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