Marketing with Memes: What Brands Need to Know

January 31, 2019 - Reading Time: 5 minutes

What are memes?

According to, a meme is a “cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way”. If you’re an active user of social media, you’ve probably come across a meme or two while scrolling through your newsfeed.

Memes might have started out as just one of the many strange things on the Internet but the phenomenon has grown to become much more than that. It’s time marketers started paying attention. Whether we like it or not, memes have become an integral part of how we communicate. In order to connect with the younger crowd, marketers need to speak their language – that means being fluent in meme.

Why should marketers care about memes?

We’ve got two words for you: hotline bling.

In 2015, rapper Drake released the music video for his song Hotline Bling. The video contained all the right ingredients for the perfect meme, with awkward dance moves and weird facial expressions. It was just begging to be meme-ified and the Internet helped fulfil its calling.

Make no mistake, Drake’s antics in the original video were well-calculated. The video was meant to appeal to Drake’s target audience: the younger generation raised on memes.

Did it work?

Hotline Bling has garnered more than 1.4 billion views on YouTube, over 700 million streams on Spotify and sold more than 7 million digital units to date. In other words, it worked.

For those of you uncomfortable with the idea of your brand becoming a meme, rest assured – you don’t have to go to those lengths. You can get a ton of attention and engagement by simply taking a current meme and putting your own spin on it. In fact, sharing repurposed jokes is the core of meme culture.

Here are a few things to note before you start using memes in your marketing strategy.

How to use memes in your marketing strategy

1. Never use an outdated meme

The first thing you should ask yourself is this: is the meme you’re planning to use still relevant? Are people still sharing it on the Internet?

In 2015, Wendy’s incorporated memes into one of their commercials. Unfortunately, the Like a Boss meme they used was already outdated.

Via Know Your Meme

The Internet never forgets.

Steer clear of memes that have waned in popularity. Posting an outdated meme is embarrassing and will do more harm than good to your brand. You don’t want to appear out of touch.

2. Know your memes

Using a meme wrongly is just as embarrassing.

McDonald’s UK made the mistake of using the “Barber meme”, meant to poke fun at ridiculous haircuts, without understanding its context.

Here’s how one would conventionally use the meme:

Via Bored Panda

Here’s what McDonald’s did:

Don’t get the joke? Neither did everyone else. The only thing funny about this was McDonald’s failed attempt to jump on the bandwagon. Needless to say, McDonald’s became the brunt of the jokes that followed on Twitter.

To educate yourself on this strange world of Internet humour, check out Know Your Meme. Make sure you understand how a meme is meant to be used before actually using it. Don’t become the meme.

3. Know Your Audience

Yes, the cardinal rule of marketing still applies here. Using memes in your marketing will only work if your target audience is familiar with the culture. The younger generation will be able to understand, and even appreciate, your attempts to “speak” meme. If you’re targeting older folk, memes will most likely be lost on them. Make sure you know what kind of references your audience is familiar with before implementing your meme strategy.

4. Does it suit your brand voice?

Memes are generally more suitable for brands with a playful, less serious image. However, this also depends on your target audience. Some serious brands have managed to integrate memes into their campaigns without jeopardising their carefully cultivated image. One such brand is Gucci.

To promote their new collection of watches, the luxury brand launched their That Feeling When Gucci campaign (#TFWGucci) where they commissioned international artists to create original images and turned them into a collection of memes.


View this post on Instagram


#TFWGucci German artist collective @decorhardcore, born out of a desire to collect and curate strange pictures of furniture, is a creative endeavor run by magpie documentarians. Founder Ksenia Shestakovski and her collaborators make art that renders fantasy tangible, with starkly lit images of seemingly mundane artifacts like hotel beds, antique lamps, and elaborate doilies. The collective’s #TFWGucci pictures, haunting and memorable, are reminiscent of commercial furniture store catalogues: every vivid color and sharp corner oozes frenetic anticipation. @Beigecardigan turns the images into memes that reflect on the fashion world, where supposed ugliness can often become beauty. – Text by @helenh0lmes Discover more through link in bio.

A post shared by Gucci (@gucci) on

Leave it to Gucci to turn Internet humour into art.

5. It’s all about being natural

We cringe at our parents’ attempts to use Internet slang but we don’t react the same way when our friends use the same words. That’s because it feels normal for your friend to use the word and your dad just feels “too old”. When it comes to marketing with memes, you want your brand to feel like the friend and not the dad.

How do you make it feel natural? Refer to points 3 and 4. Do memes suit your brand and target audience?

Another thing to note is that memes tend to require very specific contexts to work well. Therefore, you should ascertain if your messaging fits the meme instead of trying to force the meme to work for you. If you feel like you’re trying too hard to use a meme, chances are it’ll fall flat.

As members of the meme-savvy generation grow up and gain purchasing power, marketers should seriously consider memes as an alternative way to speak to this group. As Nelson Mandela once said:

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”


7 Steps to Writing a Good Blog Post

January 16, 2019 - Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of writing a blog post? Where do you even begin?

Let one of our writers enlighten you on her process!

1. Research

Pick a topic you want to cover and read up on it before you start writing anything. Explore the internet, read some books and note down important points as well as your own thoughts on them.

Research doesn’t just help you understand the topic better, it helps you decide on an angle. Let’s say you’ve chosen copywriting as your topic; there are many ways you can write about it. You could give writing tips or get into an in-depth analysis of a case study. These angles will naturally present themselves as you read up and look at how other writers are approaching the topic.

2. Plan an outline

This is where you start to make sense of all your research and plan an outline of your article. Get a notebook or type your points in a word document – whatever floats your boat – just be sure to write this plan down, lest you forget. I usually write my main points down in my notebook, followed by a gist of how I want to expand each of them.

Don’t get too caught up with using proper sentences at this stage; focus on how your article is going to be structured. Your main points should be arranged in a logical flow. Conventionally, you would give a brief background on the topic before diving into your arguments but this is not a hard-and-fast rule. This article, for example, doesn’t require a background – everyone has an idea of what a blog is. It all depends on what your audience knows so know your audience.

3. Start first draft

Here’s where you actually start writing proper.

One thing that I’ve learned from experience is this: don’t get bogged down by the introduction. Many of us find ourselves stuck at the first sentence; we stare at the blinking cursor on our screen, desperately trying to think of the perfect intro. Before you know it, an hour has gone by and not one word has been written.

If you’re stuck, just move on.

At this point, you should be focused on the length of your article rather than its quality. This means getting all those points that you planned down into actual paragraphs. Your grammar, phrasing and spelling don’t have to be perfect. Not yet, anyway.

As you write, feel free to exclude any points that, on second thought, don’t make sense or are unnecessary. Maybe you’d like to change your angle. Go ahead, make the change. The great thing about starting out with an outline before the first draft is that it forces you to relook at what you want to write, allowing you to remove things that you’re unsure about at the outset. Trust me, you don’t want to be in a situation where you’ve written more than 600 words only to find that half of them don’t make any sense.

Once you’ve got your main body written, take a break before moving on to the next step. Go grab lunch.

4. Refine

Now that you’ve had some rest, it’s time to read that first draft properly and start fine-tuning it. Get rid of all those awkward phrases and grammatical errors. Pay attention to the nuances in the language. Write and re-write sentences until you’re satisfied.

Remember that introduction you skipped the last time? Now that you’ve written the main body and have a better grasp of your article, it’s time to churn it out. The same goes for your concluding paragraph. Remember: you want to make a good first impression and leave a lasting one.

5. Proofread

Take another short break before starting this step – you’ll need all your wits about you for this.

Read your article from the top and look out for mistakes in grammar, spelling and phrasing. Edit anything that doesn’t sound right or could be better put across. The main goal here is to make sure the article flows nicely; it should be at, or near, publication-quality.

6. Get a second opinion

Once you’re satisfied, send it to your editor or someone else for a read. They may be able to spot mistakes you’ve missed but most importantly, they’ll be able to give feedback on your writing. The article shouldn’t just read well to you, it needs to read well to others too. Getting a second opinion is a great way to gauge how comprehensible your writing is.

7. Proofread again then publish

After you’ve compiled all the feedback you’ve received and edited your article accordingly, it’s time to do one last round of proofreading. Double-check that there are no grammatical or spelling mistakes and that everything flows well. Once you’re satisfied, hit ‘publish’.

That’s it! You made it!

There’s no right or wrong way to writing; your process might be different from the above approach and that’s completely fine. If you don’t have one yet, don’t worry, you’ll eventually find your groove as you go along. Don’t forget to keep an eye on how those articles do so that you can continue producing content your audience wants to read!


Why A/B Testing is Important

January 2, 2019 - Reading Time: 3 minutes

Also known as “split testing”, A/B testing is one of the most rudimentary forms of data analytics in marketing. It follows the scientific process of experimentation and allows marketers to optimise their campaigns.

What is A/B testing?

Marketing may often feel like throwing ad campaigns at the wall and seeing what sticks. But things become clearer and more systematic with A/B testing. A/B testing is where you compare the performances of two versions of an ad, a landing page or any other element of a marketing campaign to see which is the most effective.

Even though it involves a bit of extra work (e.g. instead of one landing page you now have to create two) it is not wasted work. You learn a lot about what makes your campaign effective or ineffective, and this can prove useful, especially if what you’ve been doing doesn’t seem to be yielding the desired results.

Benefits of A/B testing

The obvious benefit of A/B testing is that it allows you to optimise your marketing efforts, to make them as effective as possible. It tells you what works best, even for something as simple as a typeface. At the end of the test, you’ll be more familiar with what clicks with your target audience – knowledge that will no doubt be useful in future campaigns.

How do you conduct A/B testing?

Now is the time to dust away the cobwebs in your cerebral cortex and pull up those memories of the science experiments you did in school.

Start off with a clear goal in mind

In a science experiment, you’re usually trying to confirm a hunch. For example, you may hypothesise that plants need water to survive. Your entire experiment, therefore, will be designed to find out if this is true. That is your goal.

Likewise, in A/B testing, marketers should start with a clear idea of what they’re testing for. You could be trying to see if your clickthrough rate is affected by the colour of your call-to-action button in your ad, for example. In any case, focus on just one goal; don’t try to do too many things at once in a single test.

Identify which variable to change and keep the rest constant

As mentioned previously, A/B testing requires two versions of the same thing. These two versions should differ in only one aspect. To illustrate, let’s take a look at the previous example again: you’re trying to see if changing the call-to-action button in your ad will affect the clickthrough rate. In that case, you should create two ads that are exactly the same apart from the colour of their call-to-action buttons. This is important because you want to be sure that any change in clickthrough rate is due to the colour difference and nothing else. If you changed both the colour and the font size, for example, you wouldn’t be able to tell if the difference in results was due to the colour or the font size.

Run both campaigns at the same time under the same settings

This relates to the previous point. After you’ve created the two versions of your ad, you need to make sure that the conditions of the tests are the same. Things like audience targeting, your ad budget and even the timing of the campaign will influence the performance of your ad campaign. This means your ad settings should be kept the same for both campaigns as far as possible. The two versions of your ad should also run simultaneously for the same period of time.

A/B testing has helped many businesses develop products and campaigns that their suit the tastes and needs of their customers. Check out how Spotify used A/B testing to perfect their user interface:

So if you’re looking to develop a new product or launch a new marketing campaign, be sure to conduct your own A/B testing to make sure you’re hitting the right notes with consumers.