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Originally coined by British biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976, the word meme was referred to as a “unit of cultural information spread by imitation.” While a meme has taken on a pretty different definition today, its core remains. Memes have become a significant part of pop culture. A large part of its rising popularity can be attributed to the tremendous growth of social media over the last decade. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have enabled the rapid spread of memes as more and more meme creators and meme accounts surface.
Funny and Unfinished
Today, the bar for visual aesthetics is set at an all-time high. We live in a time where technology has enabled creatives to make stunning visuals, where design is one of the most considered aspects of the end-product. From the latest advances in Smartphone camera technology to 3D digital art, our digital experiences seem to be moving more towards something that is more design-conscious. Memes, however, lie on the opposite end of that spectrum. From a designer’s standpoint, memes look terrible.
Nevertheless, they are SO recognizable for their ‘00s-inspired DIY feel. They are contagious and people don’t ever seem to get enough. The dated look of memes is the perfect complement to the sarcastic humor written in them. The popularity of memes is a testament to people’s preference for raw and unassuming things. No refinement. No elaborate designs. No super-glossy photography. Nothing that really tries to sell you anything. All it’s trying to do is to offer some good old humor.
The Power of Memes
"Meme culture” is here to stay. Though there have been some criticisms over meme culture — offensive humor — it’s safe to assume memes are generally positively received by the majority of internet users. Since memes are often centered around pop culture and current affairs, they sometimes play a significant role in trending perspectives or viewpoints.
Sharing a meme highly suggests you agree with the content and is a way to let whoever you might send a meme to know about your sense of humor and your social and political stance on things. Generally, memes are made for entertainment and social commentary. For this reason, people are enthusiastic about sharing memes, and this makes them a great opportunity, when done correctly, for marketing.
What’s the Audience?
The internet has been around long enough for most people to be familiar with how it works. Millennials and Gen Z have no problem with it; older generations, while they may still be getting familiar with a few things, most have an understanding of social media. And since memes are relatively simple to understand, this gives memes the ability to reach people of all ages.
Memes Grab Your Attention
Memes have become a significant part of social engagement, so marketers and businesses have begun using them to call attention to their brands. Memes can be seen as completely left-field when we think about traditional marketing. To big companies with budgets in the millions, the thought of using memes probably won’t rest well. If you had to decide between a full-blown ad campaign that you know has been tried and tested or a meme that looks like it was made by a high-schooler, which would you choose? While you weigh the pros and cons, you might be poised to know that there have, in fact, been some companies that decided to ride the meme wave.
Here’s a look at Gucci’s meme from 2017:
Here’s one from snack brand Bugles, which decided to focus their entire account on posting memes:
The beauty of all this: less polish, more authenticity. It can also be cheaper and easier to produce. What’s required is good humor and a really good understanding of the audience. What makes them such a good marketing strategy is that they can go viral, and that’s something that you can’t buy, no matter how much money you pour into a campaign. You cannot make someone enthusiastically share content unless they are genuinely interested in it. While memes are not entirely a new phenomenon, companies are still figuring out how to bring memes into their strategies. As technology develops and the way we consume content evolve, it seems companies are slowly beginning to leave older, more traditional business practices behind and step into the world of memes.
If you liked this article, follow our account @eq.international for Meme Mondays, a remedy to dreadful Monday blues.