Check out this article from the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute. It’s an oldie but a goodie, dissecting the science of a joke – what it is that happens in our brains and bodies when someone says “did you hear the one…” and then rips a great punch line.

There are some insights for business here – especially that joy comes from the incongruous, something we didn’t see coming. Like a good joke, a great consumer experience is about defying convention and expectation, creating happiness by breaking the mould. And – a lesson we knew from the comics – as in much of life, timing is everything. The best jokes are delivered in Lovemarks style – with carefully timed attraction (Intimacy), tension (Mystery) and revelation (the reward that leads to Sensuality, in this case the ring of laughter).

The mind moves the heart when you hear a good joke. Mental process drives chemical reaction, which translates into hilarity. This is alchemy – the conversion of leaden reason into the molten gold of emotion. Not surprisingly, going through this process is good for you.

So here’s the challenge: give the consumer something she’s not expecting, not from you, not from anyone – but will love. Draw her in with the three magic ingredients – Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy. Do it when she expects it the least…and wants it the most.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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