Knowing me(me), knowing mew
One Woman’s Obsession with Cat Memes
I like a cat meme. Friends and colleagues might say that I love a cat meme. The secret ‘Cat Memes’ folder on my desktop might suggest I am a borderline cat meme addict. I can’t quite pinpoint when my interest addiction for Lolcats, keyboard cats and business cats first began, but when I am old and settled and decide to write a book on my life’s (mis)adventures, ‘The Memoirs of a Crazy Cat Meme Lady’ strikes me as very apt title indeed.
If you don’t really know what a meme is, or kind of do but don’t, the origin of the word can be traced back to British ethologist Richard Dawkins’ 1976 publication of ‘The Selfish Gene,’ in his endeavours to explain how information and behaviours spread culturally. It could be said that something as simple as a handshake could be thought of as a meme – an idea or a behaviour that has been shared and passed on throughout the years – a cultural tradition.
The internet meme is an offshoot of this idea, simple images or GIFs that inspire, make us laugh or help us to communicate our feelings when sometimes words alone just won’t do. Like them, loathe them or really just don’t get them, they have become an integral part of our expression, our society, our culture, our identity even. Technology and social media play an overwhelming part in all of our lives and the way we communicate through these means will continue to evolve now and long into the future.
The language that brands use to speak to their customers in this time of wavering brand loyalty is so important, and a simple meme can be a powerful tool in engaging with your online community. The beauty of a meme is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% relevant to your brand, it just needs to resonate with your audience, simply showing that you ‘get them.’ The more followers that connect with your content, the more chance of it going viral, thus helping to build a constant and loyal community.
Emilio the black cat had humble beginnings as an NYC rescue who was presented with a kitty necktie as a Christmas gift from his owners – just what every cat wants right? WRONG, or so Emilio thought at the time! Just days after his owners posted a snap of the less than impressed moggie not really feline his new apparel (Oh, did I mention I am also a sucker for a really bad pun?!) on an online community page, it went viral and a new internet sensation had been born – Business Cat. I may have strayed (Strayed…get it…cats? Never mind!) onto the subject of my favourite cat memes again, but it proves that a simple picture, a product image or a description of a service, just needs to be seen by and resonate with, the right people to fuel a new idea that appeals to the masses. The evolution of an idea or evocation of a feeling in a clever, whimsical or witty way that can be easily absorbed and understood by your audience can be an extremely powerful marketing tool.