Nevan Donahue, Head of Strategy and Business Development at, Highlights the Power of Humor in Brand Building

From antiquity to modern times, humor has been among the few social constructs capable of triggering a response across cultures, socio-economic classes, and demographics. Aside from its entertainment value, it has been linked to a “healthier, more positive self-concept,” and the beneficial effect of humor on physical and psychological well-being has been reflectedin numerous sayings, the most popular perhaps being “Laughter is the best medicine.” The universal appeal and accessibility of humor explain why comedy was the preferred genre in the early days of cinema, helping the fledgling art form find its feet and ultimately become a defining feature of culture in the 20thcentury. The power of humor was also quickly recognized in the business world, where advertising grew increasingly creative with the advent of television. In the age of the internet, building a brand and a loyal customer base has become a challenging endeavor, and many businesses are finding an ally in humor, according to Nevan Donahue, a senior executive at

It is really hardto make a mark amid all the noise from digital platforms and social media, so the first task for any brand is to stand out by finding its ownvoice, as James Nevan Donahue notes. Humor has helped many companies differentiate themselves and thus create a lasting impression, especially in the case of startups attempting to break into crowded industries such as consumer goods and technology. According to psychologists, content presented in a humorous setting enhances memory recall, and brands perceived as funny are considered more relatable and trustworthy. In addition to being viewed as fundamental to establishing positive relationships, humor is also regardedas a critical ingredient of social media success as it boosts sharing and promotes engagement in a way no other marketing channel can.

Despite their enormous potential, humorous elements should be incorporated in brand-building campaigns only after careful consideration and the formulation of an appropriate strategy, Nevan Donahue points out. While comedy appeals to young and old alike, demographics would determine the response of the target audience to a particular joke,meaningthat something an 18-year-old finds funny might not appear so to a 40-year-old, so exhaustive research needs to be conducted. Moreover, certaintopics could be sensitive or controversial, and the short-term benefits of shock value might not be worth the long-term associations with the brand name. Last but not least, the ideas and material need to be carefully curated and tested since being consistently funny is a massive challenge even for brands deemed hugely successful at incorporating comedy in their campaigns.

Nevan Donahue oversees strategy and business development at– a collective of writers catering to the needs of marketers, brands, and individuals. Tapping into the creative power of more than 7,500 content producers, the online social comedy platform provides original ideas in real time, helping clients meet the specific demands of communication in the digital age. James Nevan Donahue and his wife, Sarah Berner, are the founders of The Real Senior Prom – a service specialized in organizing dance parties at senior homes, centers, and residences.  Outside of work, he is an ardent supporter ofenvironmental causes, most notably ocean conservation, and is a board member at Blue Sphere Foundation.


Nevan Donahue on How Blue Sphere Foundation Combines Art and Activism to Inspire Support for Ocean Protection:

Nevan Donahue Promotes Companionship Through The Real Senior Prom:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *