Everyone has that one friend who has the power to make you laugh until you collapse into a crying heap on the floor. We’re talking the kind of friend you can’t wait to wheel out at any given opportunity – the comedic genius with a knack for irony and a talent for a well-timed punchline. So why is it that, when hilarious people abound in real life, employer brands find it so difficult to make us laugh?

Part of it’s a fear of polarising the audience and delivering the killer punchline, only to find them react as though you’ve just read out the most rudimentary dad joke. The other element is misgivings over what their brand stands for. If you’re a FTSE 100 company with a corporate dress code and a marble-clad lobby, does a pun-tastic subject line or witty meme really align with your overarching proposition and values?

So we get why brands feel funny about being funny. But we also know that those who take a risk with their communications can win big, particularly in the world of employer branding. After all, what could be more appealing than an employer with a good sense of humour that’s demonstrating they’re all about being human rather than corporate? To show you the way, here are three brands we think are nailing a humorous approach to employer branding.

Kantega: The mysterious life of software developers

Norwegian software company Kantega was looking to attract software developer talent, but knew that competition was fierce and that it would need to really sell itself to see results. It approached our Spoon colleagues in Oslo to help produce a video that would position the brand as the place to work. And this is what they came up with (we think it’s brilliant).

 The video delivered on three crucial objectives: to increase the number of job applicants, to raise awareness of Kantega as a potential workplace for software developers, and to increase awareness of the Kantega brand overall.

Results-wise, it’s a stand-out case study: the video has been viewed over 23 million times across a range of sites including the hugely popular UNILAD, and has generated 180,000 shares and 60,000 comments. From a recruitment perspective, it led to a 3571% increase in traffic to the ‘Careers’ part of the Kantega website – plus, the video’s overwhelming success also led to soaring employee motivation – an increase of 20%, according to a recent employee survey.

So why did it work so well? First of all: sharp comedic observation. Mockumentaries are nothing new, but this one works because of Spoon’s clear understanding of the video’s subjects (three ‘breeds’ of software developer, captured in their ‘natural’ office environment). Secondly, Spoon has been completely true to the documentary-style being sent up (all hail our national treasure David Attenborough!). We also challenge you to find a better Attenborough impersonator than Guy Harris. Gold stars all round.

Dropbox: A bunch of (very funny) muppets

The objective around employer brand is two-fold: firstly, what job opportunities are on offer at your company? And secondly, what’s your company culture like – why should I want to work for you?

This Dropbox example is an oldie but a goodie. Not only does it give an insight into the breadth of what Dropbox does, but it also shows you what Dropbox is like as a brand: fun, laid-back, and brimming with personality. Plus, the video features the voices of real-life Dropbox employees, which helps the audience feel like they’re hearing from real people (just in muppets’ clothing).

Intel: Making rock stars out of every employee

In my opinion, the best kind of comedy is all about the self-deprecation. Take James Acaster, for example, or the brilliant Sara Pascoe. There’s something disarmingly likeable about someone who can laugh at themselves – and it happens to be something that Intel do brilliantly with this video.

The premise here is that Intel employees – people super-passionate about technology and its impact on the wider world – are bonafide rock stars in Intel. This is about reframing what it means to be cool, and giving software developers and techies the permission to get excited about what they do.

As a brand, Intel’s take on their very likable employees suggests their wider commitment to encouraging a culture of non-conformity; they’re also challenging the status quo in the most fun and unapologetic way possible. The message also conveyed that Intel knows that its employees are integral to its success. This is a community of groupies that you want to be a part of, whether you’re sold on Intel’s products or not. Now that’s what we call smart employer branding.