Steve Goy

Posted on 11th January 2024
by Steve Goy

The art of playful design

Trend forecasters in the world of design have humour on their minds. The creative community has noted a development in the illustrious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which takes place this June. Their awards programme will feature a new category within which to judge branded communications, and it’s all about the laughs!

The change is being labelled “a return to humour”. Years, if not decades ago, the industry used to put themselves out on a limb to be funny. Since then, we’ve all had lots of serious issues on our plate and the feeling is that brands have reflected that mood in their marketing collateral. Yet on the red carpet of the festival in June 2023, 52% of all category winners were deemed funny, up from 43% the year before. Other research reinforces that humorous marketing pitches are what consumers want to see, hear and engage with.

So, what does this mean for a business that has ‘serious’ ambitions?

The recommendation is that marketeers take the topic of humour to the boardroom table. Don’t be deterred by anyone who believes that consumers think humour may be deemed childish or frivolous in association with their brand! The saying “behind every joke there is some truth” is based on the psychological concept that humour often arises from real-life experiences, observations, or thoughts. But equally, humour can be a purely creative or imaginative expression.

Maybe it’s not the case of aiming for a deep belly laugh, more a smirk and a smile! A ‘hearts and minds’ reaction to the communications of a brand will be more memorable. People are receptive and positive when they are relaxed. This mood is the perfect state from which to introduce new ideas, approaches and products.

Are you ready to reveal wit, satire and amusement?

At oodle, we can certainly take a playful approach to the marketing collateral of your business. The tactic taken will depend on the who, what, where, when and why of your project brief.

Let’s put some initial ideas your way that should make this recommendation accessible for everyone and every brand.

Choice of marketing platform

We associate different marketing channels with certain types of information. For example, when we engage with social media, we’re receptive to new information. An animated gif or a visual representation of information in an infographic, are highly engaging and memorable approaches. Then you’ll know that social media algorithms gravitate towards video content. Animations will respond to this brief; design, messaging and music can be blended to embed humour.

Beyond digital communications, direct mail is another medium where humour can provide a point of difference. Think for example about the impact of a mere red envelope in the weeks ahead of Valentine’s Day!

Valetine's card from Systematic

Design style

Styles and even colour palettes in a design can inject fun and humour. Illustrations are a popular approach. We can create characters, avatars and caricatures to reflect your brand. They can be based on distinctive shapes, with an emphasis on facial expressions or perhaps with exaggerated features. A project that we evolved in this direction was in a brand redesign for Good Lookin Cookin, a supplier of high-quality, healthy school meals. We evolved their typographic logo into food characters, each with a back-story linked to members of the team!


Clever copywriters will introduce the right concentration of playfulness to your messaging. Before you potentially commit to a rewriting of your brand’s tone of voice, why not test the impact of a ‘light-hearted leading alliteration’, (the use of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words). There is also a lot to be said for a clever, unique hashtag that brings cohesion to a key brand message or online call to action, #JustSaying!

Has this been a useful pointer to scribble on your 2024 ideas list?

If you’d like to chat about finding a LOL tactic for your business, we’d be happy to chat. Just for the record, that’s ‘laugh out loud’, yet as always, we’re sending ‘lots of love’.

Humour us, reach out for a chat

Recommended for you

Follow us

View all News

Your exclusive insights

Visit us

Centurion Way
United Kingdom