We all know that humor is one of the most powerful communication tools in existence. After all, we will remember what makes us laugh and quickly forget what we find to be dull. Adding some humor to your slogans can make customers pay attention to the words, and more importantly, your product or service.

Writing an effective, but funny advertising slogan can be much harder than it seems. The words have to make the target audience laugh, but still respect the brand. Unless it fits within your brand, try and avoid cynicism or negativity.  Go for witty, sharp and maybe even provocative.

A classic funny tagline is one for Coco Pops cereal: “I’m, Coco for Coco Pops.” That made the product sound appealing, related the brand name to an emotion and made people remember it.

One big danger you have when you try to sound funny in a tagline is to end up sounding just plain stupid. Some very well-intentioned attempts at crafting humorous slogans have ended up sounding completely dumb in the end.

Dominos once had a catchphrase that said: “Avoid the Noid” with the Noid being a mischievous character they invented.  The problem was no one was laughing and the campaign, slogan and yes, the Noid disappeared never to be seen again.

Another problem that you have with humor is that it may not translate into other cultures. Anybody who’s ever watched a British sitcom knows that the Brits find a lot of stuff funny that Americans do not. Not everybody gets every attempt at humor; some people will be confused by it, others may be offended by it.

It seems obvious but make sure to avoid any sort of ethnic or cultural humor. Even if you’re Italian and you’re selling olive oil imported from Italy, making light of that heritage, even in a seemingly innocuous way, could offend people.   There are sure to be people who take things way more seriously than you do.

The best way to avoid this is to try and keep the humorous slogans simple. The simpler they are, the easier it will be to get the joke, and the less likely that people will be confused or offended. One of the most effective catchphrases of all time was the dairy industry’s “Got Milk?” Another was Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” Both of those taglines convey a point quickly and generate a lot of laughs.  Plus they tied in with broader messaging the companies were putting out there.

Humor is a powerful tool so use your best judgment when developing a new advertising slogan or tagline and you could be laughing all the way to the bank.