Creative branding tips: how to use memes for marketing

3 MINS Team

Looking for creative new marketing ideas for 2016 – preferably one that will go viral? Look no further than using memes for marketing.

A meme, by its very definition, is viral. First coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976, the term meme, from the Greek “mimema” (something imitated), is simply a cultural idea that spreads very quickly. That idea can be just about anything, from a person to a joke. (You can explore the world of memes here.)

However, there are three that really stand out, are super popular (and therefore familiar), and can work just about anywhere and for any type of small business. They are:

Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat’s real name is Tardar Sauce, and she got her famous nickname due to her, um, grumpy expression. She is inexplicably famous, and the face of a thousand super-negative-but-pretty-funny-if-you-like-sarcasm sayings overlaid on her image.

For marketing: You do a great job of solving your client’s biggest challenges. Well, what if Grumpy Cat faced that same challenge? What would she say?

More Cowbell

More Cowbell

We have an April 8, 2000, episode of Saturday Night Live to thank for one of the funniest catchphrases ever: “More Cowbell.” If you don’t know it, put on your headphones and watch the video. If you like the video, you’ll probably love the t-shirts, too.

For marketing: More cowbell is great, but more _______ might be even better. You could also give “The Bruce Dickinson” a new quote similar to one of his from the video.

Keep Calm

Keep Calm and Carry On

In 1939, the British Ministry of Information designed posters to boost morale during WWII. “Keep Calm and Carry On” was one of them, and it actually disappeared for 60 years until being unearthed by a bookseller. Now, we can’t escape the ubiquitous saying and its many variations.

For marketing: You want your clients to keep calm and do what? Get creative and fill in the blank.

What are your other favorite memes? Have you used one yet? Did it go viral?

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Author information

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen is a freelance copywriter and editor who helps with companies of all shapes on sizes kick their content up to the next level. You can find her online at

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