Meme Marketing: 8 Tips To Leverage Memes In Marketing

There’s a meme for every occasion. There’s a meme for every emotion. Don’t you agree? After all, memes have the power to make virtual communications feel so much better, so much more personal. And anything that can aid better communication falls on the radar of marketers. So did memes. Evidently, meme marketing is a huge thing today. 

Brands that wish to incorporate humor into their marketing strategy, those that wish to have meaningful interactions with their customers, and those that wish to try and go viral all prioritize memes. 

So, are you looking to experiment with meme marketing? Are you in search of inspiration to get your meme strategy rolling? You are in the right place. We are going to take a brief dive into the reasons why you should consider meme marketing and then look at some memes from famous brands to understand what makes a good meme for marketing. 

But first, how would you like a quick peek into the history of memes? Wouldn’t it be more fun to know about this viral content type that you have been using extensively both in personal and professional communication? 

A brief overview of the history of memes 

The Greek word, “mimema” translates to “imitation”. This Greek word is said to be the inspiration for the word “meme”. Considering that memes are literally imitations or creative manipulations of a commonly shared and recognized idea, this is a fitting reference, don’t you think? 

The word “meme” itself was only introduced in the year 1976, by Richard Dawkins, in his book titled “The Selfish Gene”. But the idea is pretty old. 

In a magazine published by the University of Wisconsin, called the “Wisconsin Octopus” the below image appeared in one of the editions between the years 1919 and 1920. 

Doesn’t that look very much like the “expectations vs. reality” memes that we so often find on the internet? Well, see, satire is not a new concept to mankind. So, the core idea of memes is not entirely new. That’s part of the reason why memes work with people from all generations, in other words – people of all age groups. 

Today, the meme culture has diversified so much. Social media has had a crucial role to play in this. Instagram called memes the “mood of 2020”. After all, according to Instagram, over a million memes were shared that year. 

Having spoken about the backstory, now let’s get to our topic – meme marketing. Meme marketing is the idea of using memes in your marketing. But is it a measure that’s worth your time? 

Meme marketing – fad or fab? 

We would say some brands are skeptical about using memes in their marketing strategy because of the fear that it is a fad. But the truth is, memes have turned out to be timeless. So, yes, they are fab indeed and not just a fad to ignore. Not convinced? Hear these benefits of using memes in marketing and then decide for yourself. 

The inherent versatility 

One of the main reasons why memes work in marketing is that they are simple and easy to understand. In general, visual cues make a brand message easier to comprehend. Memes do it even better. 

For example, here is a simple meme from Dunkin. 

We all know that holiday engagements are a popular trend. The brand took a dig at this trend with the simplest idea. And the donut instantly makes you think of the brand. Moreover, ideas like these work with almost all kinds of demographics. 

Given the simplicity of the idea, you might end up remembering this meme when you see a ring or when someone talks about holiday engagements. Quick brand recall established in this way can be quite beneficial to any brand. 

The power of good humor 

Memes are mostly used in a context where brands are trying to communicate a message in a light-hearted way. Most of them incorporate humor as the main theme. 

When you are trying to promote your brand as an authoritative name in the industry, you need to have credible and professional content. We get it. But a little humor here and there never hurts. In fact, it is one of the most reliable emotions that works almost everywhere and almost with everyone. 

Viral potential = better reach 

One of the main reasons why several social media users have turned meme creators is that it helps them reach a wider group of audience. If you come up with a meme idea that people can relate to, they are very likely to share your meme on their social media pages as well. This equates to better reach for your brand. 

Kimp Tip: Have you noticed how several meme creators add a small watermark to the memes they create? That’s mainly to earn recognition when their memes go viral. You want that for your brand too! That’s why creating branded memes can make a huge difference. Your brand colors, fonts – there are many ways to do it. 

Wondering how to come up with branded memes for an engaging social media feed? Set up a call with the Kimp team today. 

Meme marketing – 8 tips to make memes work for your brand 

1. Use a relatable idea 

The best part about memes is that you do not need the most complicated ideas to make an impact. 

A simple idea + a touch of creativity = a great meme for marketing 

Take a look at the below video meme on the DisneyPlus Instagram page. 

When you return to work after a day off, it’s natural to feel lost and curious about all that you had missed. This is a sentiment that most people instantly understand. Disney uses this idea to create a very relatable meme that people will be eager to share with their colleagues. 

And to know what your customers will easily understand, it takes a good understanding of your customers. The topics, and the kind of pop-culture references that your target audience will understand instantly are the best kind to work with. Memes are meant to be instantly graspable. 

Kimp Tip: Wondering how to make your memes “relatable”? Look for the common challenges people face and how brands and products in your niche solve these problems. Here is a meme designed by Kimp that many marketers will relate to. 

2. Keep your memes relevant to your brand and products 

While creating memes that your customers can easily understand, it is also to keep your memes on-brand. There should be a recognizable visual connection between your memes and your brand identity. 

You can achieve this by using signature brand elements like your mascot or your flagship product, as we saw in the case of Dunkin’s meme. 

Netflix shows one way to do it. 

By using a scene from the recent Netflix movie, Glass Onion as the reference, the brand gives a nod to several other movies and shows on Netflix. It uses its own content and achieves both engagement and awareness. It is also a good example of cross-selling. 

3. Deliver a strong message in the most creative way 

Memes can be wonderful tools in emotional marketing. Promotional graphics that make an emotional connection are the ones that have the most impact on your audience. Memes come in handy for such applications. 

The below meme by Chipotle hits hard when you get the subtle message in it. While there is humor, there is also the slightest chance that the meme reminds you to get more active. 

Moreover, several Chipotle campaigns talk about healthy eating and this meme feels right in place amidst them. 

4. Timing is everything  

Trending memes are often due to some notable cultural happenings or an important political event. These are memes that are short-lived but they gain a lot of traction in that period. 

For trending memes, it is important to hop on the bandwagon before it’s too late. For example, the “Little Miss” meme trend went viral on TikTok in 2022 earning over 84 million views. The trend also spread to other social media platforms. But you might not be seeing many Little Miss memes recently as the trend slowly faded away. 

McDonald’s jumped into the trend when the Little Miss memes were everywhere. 

Saw a trend that you wish to adopt? Get your memes designed quickly and easily with Kimp subscriptions

5. Simplify the message for your audience 

When you create memes like the one from Disney we discussed above the idea is easy to understand. But sometimes you might be using memes to make an announcement. It can be about a new product you introduce or a new sale or feature coming up. In such cases, when the message is not straightforward or generic, you need to help your audience understand the message without any hassle. 

We’ll explain this with an example. The below meme was posted on the Instagram page of Domino’s Pizza. The meme was to talk about a special offer on takeaway orders. To ensure that the message is clear, the brand also uses a descriptive caption along with the meme. That’s one way to simplify the message for your audience. 

6. Some memes can become timeless 

We spoke about the importance of timing while using memes in marketing. But when you customize simple ideas and align them with your brand, you can create timeless memes. 

The below meme from KFC works no matter what’s trending on social media.

This meme works because it uses simple illustrations and a straightforward idea that will ring a bell in any foodie. 

Another way to do this will be to pick an image that is not topical. In other words, look for memes that circulate on the internet every now and then. They do not have defined timelines of popularity. They might not exactly have the “viral potential” but they are simple and engaging. Like the Success-Kid meme by Kimp, or Disaster Girl, Grumpy Cat, Distracted Boyfriend and so many others out there. 

With evergreen images like these, you can make even the simplest message sound more exciting. On the social media pages of the NSW Police Force, you will find the most creative social media content including a good dose of memes. Here’s one that makes use of the evergreen Winnie The Pooh meme that works almost always. 

7. Pay attention to the sentiments attached to the memes 

The effectiveness of a meme you use in your marketing depends on how well you understand the meaning of the meme and the emotions attached to it. After all, brands use memes mainly to make meaningful conversations with their customers. So, if you get the meaning wrong or if you end up offending your customers your meme does more harm than good. 

We’ll give you an example to prove this. Pepe the Frog meme was once an internet sensation. But a lot of incidents led to the meme becoming a hate symbol. Unaware of this, Wendy’s used one of the Pepe the Frog memes in its reply to a user on Twitter. The brand received a lot of backlash on social media for using the controversial meme. 

In response, Wendy’s removed the meme and acknowledged its misstep. 

Kimp Tip: There are 2 things to learn from the Wendy’s meme incident. One is that you need to be double-sure that the meme idea you choose is not controversial or against your brand values in any way. 

The second is that mistakes happen. A lot depends on how you choose to respond to them. In this case, Wendy’s minimized the damage by immediately removing the meme and acknowledging the incident. This can happen only when you pay close attention to your audience’s reaction on social media. Don’t “post and ghost”. Once you post a meme or any other social media post for that matter, stay back and engage with your audience by responding to their comments. 

8. Pay attention to the visual elements 

A good meme is a combination of a catchy image + great copy. 

A good marketing meme is a combination of a catchy image + great copy + the brand’s flavor. 

Incorporating your logo, watermarks, or mascots as we discussed a little while ago can all be useful in adding your brand’s creative flair to the meme. After all, while engagement is important, a highly engaging viral meme that does not help with brand awareness is not very useful for your brand. 

You can create memes solely for the purpose of entertainment once in a while but ensure that the design does not mess with the visual harmony and the aesthetics of your social media pages. From the words you choose to the designs you use, every little thing has a role to play. 

To get this right clearly lay down your meme marketing goals. Without a strong objective when you create memes for the sake of it, you are skating on thin ice. In a blog earlier, we spoke about how not to go viral. That’s particularly relevant in the case of memes. Here are a few things that can spoil the game or even lead to negative vitality:

  • A poorly designed meme
  • Meme idea that’s totally irrelevant to your brand values
  • Something that hurts your audience’s sentiments
  • Poor quality graphics 

When you have the right idea in place, next comes the execution part. To ensure that it flows smoothly, a Kimp subscription is just what you need. 

Ace the meme marketing game with Kimp designs 

Meme marketing, as you can see from the examples above, has helped several brands break the ice and get closer to their customers. Need that for your brand? Don’t worry, with a Kimp subscription you can generate all kinds of graphics that can bring your marketing strategy to life. So, what are you waiting for? Register for a free trial today.