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Have you noticed more companies lowering their guard when it comes to communicating in a lighthearted style?

We have only anecdotal observations on this, but as social media change the nature of the relationships between companies and their stakeholders, we’ve noticed an uptick in the number of companies working humor into their routine communication efforts.

At the subtle end of the humor spectrum, for example, the software company Techsmith includes the following privacy statement at the end of its email newsletters:

We’re happy to have you on our list, and since we want to keep you all to ourselves, we never share your email address with anyone.

“We want to keep you all to ourselves” is a pleasant and slightly offbeat way to convey both the privacy assurance and the idea that Techsmith values its customers.

At the other end of the spectrum—far, far at the other end—the online music retailer CD Baby has some fun with its version of letting customers know their orders are on the way:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, May 17, 2011.

We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as “Customer of the Year.”

Such an over-the-top message wouldn’t work for a bank or a medical products supplier, to be sure. However, the humor probably promotes a closer emotional bond with CD Baby, if only for poking fun at other companies that take themselves a little too seriously.

Have you seen notable examples of “business funny” that suggest a more relaxed approach to business communication (outside of advertising, that is)? Would you consider having your students try a writing exercise in this vein?

By the way, we’re going to take a short break and will begin posting again in mid-August. Have a great summer!