The Best Way to Market with Memes

 By Emma Fitzpatrick  

Ever feel like it’s tough to keep up with the Internet? If you tune out for even a few hours, you can return to find everyone is riffing the same phrase or sharing the same image. It’s like the Internet’s collective inside joke that you’re just stumbling upon. Or you can call it a meme.

A meme is usually a funny image, GIF, or video paired with a formulaic caption that spreads like wildfire. They’re silly and can be nonsensical. And, they make it easy for all to join in on the fun. You simply share the visual and follow the formula to write an accompanying caption (if need be).

Since memes are timely, viral, and easy to create, should your bank include memes in your marketing? The topic is likely more nuanced than you’d suspect. Get the full scoop below.

Tune into trending memes.

You probably already know some of the classic Internet memes, like the Willy Wonka meme that peaked in 2012. It’s a picture of Gene Wilder from the 1971 film with a two-part caption. Part one is a question, and part two is a snarky response, just like the image below.


The meme itself is called Condescending Wonka, and here’s how it grew. Someone posted the meme on Reddit, and it instantly blew up. In February 2012, people were sharing the image everywhere. For the next few months, it stuck around to a lesser degree until it slowly petered off.


Like Condescending Wonka, Y U No, Success Kid, Bad Luck Brian, and the Most Interesting Man on Earth are a few other classic memes. To get a feel for these, scroll through the most popular memes, which all follow a similar trajectory. It seems like it’s the hottest image on the internet, and then, poof. It’s over.

That’s the thing about memes. They’re incredibly fleeting. Using a meme after its prime can make your brand look out of touch.

If you’re intrigued by memes and want to follow the trends, you might want to take a look at Know Your Meme. The site tracks and researches memes and breaks down all the basics of each meme–from its background and origin to examples and how it’s trending.

Decide if memes fit your bank’s brand.

Once you’ve got your eye on a meme, it’s time to ask yourself whether marketing with memes is the right step for your bank. As already alluded to, meme marketing, or meme-jacking, can be tricky.


Before trying this tactic, use this two-step check.

  1. Does your brand often embrace humor in your marketing materials? If so, your audience may be open to memes. If humor is not a cornerstone of your brand’s voice or marketing, a meme will likely feel out of place.
  2. Are millennials or Generation X your target audience? If yes, try testing out memes on your social accounts, and see how it goes. If the answer is no, there’s a good chance your audience would not understand what the meme is or why it’s funny. The goal of using memes is to connect, not isolate, your audience.

If you answered yes to both, keep on reading!

How to make a meme in less than 2 minutes.

If memes are a fit for your bank, here’s how to create memes in a flash!

  1. Know which meme you’re going to parody before you start. You should have a solid understanding of the meme’s background, origin, and message before sharing. Otherwise, you could get yourself and your bank into a sticky situation.
  2. Go to a meme generator, like Meme Dad. Select a site that allows you to create free memes without watermarks.
  3. Search for a meme by name or choose one from the popular or trending section.
  4. Follow the meme’s specific caption formula to write a fitting top and bottom line. Before you download and share, spellcheck and double-check that you’re embracing the meme’s style and structure.

Emma Fitzpatrick is a Philly-based freelance writer and marketer, whose specialties include content marketing, social media marketing and short, snappy writing. Pick her brain at [email protected].