Condescending Wonka - Memes

An example of my favorite meme, Condescending Wonka.

Condescending Wonka has a point – memes are anything but new, and they are much more than a trend. In fact, memes have been around in some form or fashion for much longer than the Internet. And yet, many brands use memes all wrong. This ends up doing more harm than good.

Every time a brand uses a meme incorrectly, an Internet troll get its wings. They will be more condescending than Wonka ever was and make your brand look old and out of touch. Nobody wants that.

So yes, Condescending Wonka, we are publishing an article about memes. However, we are going to explore how brands can use this established, not-a-trend tool to their advantage.

What’s in a Meme?

One Does Not Simply Explain What a Meme Is

“One Does Not Simply” is a great meme for explaining that something is much harder than it seems.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Some people compare memes to genes due to the way memes replicate and mutate. Like genes, mutated memes are sometimes rejected and sometimes accepted.

In the example above, the image is from the Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring. In this scene in the movie, Sean Bean’s character, Boromir says, “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” When people of the Internet took that line and changed it to spread other ideas, it became a meme. Find more examples of this particular meme here.

Remember that memes predate the Internet. But how can that be? Well, a meme is anything that spreads an idea through culture and can be manipulated for each user. Doing “bunny ears” to your sibling in a family picture is a meme.

Do you remember saying, “Circle. Circle. Dot. Dot. Now you’ve got the cootie shot,” in elementary school? That’s a meme too. The idea of a meme is really a nebulous one. But if you can understand the current ones being passed around the Internet like a bad cold, you can use memes in your marketing.

Know Your Meme

Wrong Memes. Wrong Memes Everywhere.

The format for this meme is always:
Top – XYZ

Before you make your meme, head over to to make sure you’re using the correct one. This awesome site will give you the history of each meme, examples, and other important information. If you only take away one tip from this post, make it this one.

Make it Correctly

What If I Told You

This meme is often used in a condescending way. Such as, “What if I told you that blinkers were not just a suggestion”
However, that’s not how we used it here. Memes can sometimes be changed slightly in tone.

One of the most cringe-inducing things a brand can do with a meme is use the wrong font. It sounds silly, but it does matter. There are plenty of meme generators out there to help you use the correct font and images. We have found that is very easy to use. It’s also free!

It’s All in the Timing

We love "300" as much as anyone, but this meme is stale. Also, note the bright colors in the background. This is a common meme background you will see in a sub-category of memes called "Advice Animals."

We love “300” as much as anyone, but this meme is stale.
Also, note the bright colors in the background. This is a common meme background you will see in a sub-category of memes called “Advice Animals.”

Some memes, like the Rick Roll and Can I Haz Cheezburger are timeless. Others quickly wear out their welcome. Be sure to know the difference. Minions, for example, are completely overdone at this point. People are getting tired of them.

How can you tell? If your mom and all her friends are posting a particular meme with regularity, they are probably already old. Also, if you’ve seen it on Reddit a few times, it might still be good. If you’ve seen it on Reddit a lot, it’s probably old.

Make Sure You Have the Right Audience

This meme is funny because it's relatable, especially to Millennials.

This meme is funny because it’s relatable, especially to Millennials.

Not every brand should use memes, because not every audience will understand or enjoy them. Furthermore, they do not fit into every brand image. If your brand always shoots for funny, it may be appropriate. However, if you always strive for a serious tone, you may want to rethink memes.

Do you use memes to market your brand? Still unclear on which memes are cool and which ones are lame? Give Duncan/Day a call. We are here to help with all your marketing needs.

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