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What Ross Geller from Friends can teach us about our own personal branding

In world of social media noise, it can be tricky to be heard, seen or get cut through on LinkedIn. Many businesses and brands are looking for that sweet spot to secure online engagement, those that are doing it well have a grip on their personal branding.


Photo: Instagram - @_schwim_

We can learn a lot about how to shape our personal brand from the big personalities we see on our feeds or on our screens every day. The tang-tastic Donald Trump, the not-so-quietly obnoxiousness of Jeremy Clarkson …and even the quirkiness of Friends character Ross Geller.


Personal brand entrepreneur Joe Binder of WOAW, believes the cast of Friends are some of the most memorable and recognisable characters of a generation, and therefore the ultimate case study for personal branding. Here is Joe Binder’s three lessons learnt from Ross Geller about boosting our own personal brand.


The one Ross tried to help us understand Unagi…

Picture the scene: Remember the episode Ross adopted Unagi? Only, he got the word completely wrong. What Ross was referring to was “zanshin,” a Japanese martial arts term that describes relaxed awareness.


Within a close group of fairly judgemental friends, Ross is never afraid to do something different, share new concepts with the group and test what will land with the crowd. Joe Binder believes we all have our own ‘unagi’. Having a personal brand is about maintaining an outwardly belief in your work or values and being comfortable to share with conviction. Being proactive with your ideas and sharing content is one thing, but you must make sure you get the right messaging for the content to perform well. Whether Ross brought us on board or not, no one will forget Unagi.


The one Ross dressed up as the holiday armadillo

Picture the scene: Ross is enthusiastically trying to teach his son Ben about the importance of Hanukkah. To get his attention he decides he will transform into Santa, but due to a costume mix up he is forced to dress up as the ‘holiday armadillo’. Thinking on his feet he decides to use this as an opportunity to teach Ben about the festival of light.


While Joe Binder is no fan of peacocking, he will admit there is something charming about the way Ross goes that extra mile to get noticed. If we look at this scene as a seasonal hook, the classic would have been to dress up as Santa, but by choosing the ‘Holiday Armadillo’ he is able to showcase something new and bring people on the journey with him. Ross in this scene reminds us that nothing

will ever be perfect when building your brand and you can’t always expect things to go your way. We often must think on our feet and mould our content to make it topical or relevant. As part of your personal branding you need to jump onto trends and continue to promote your content within those trends. In Ross’ case there is a story in trying to be topical and failing to be topical. By telling that

story of failure (no santa costume) he has jumped onto a topical trend and increased his engagement.


The one Ross shouted ‘pivot’

Picture the scene: One of Ross’ most famous lines is “pivot, pivot, pivot!” And we can’t help but laugh every time we think of it. When the delivery fee for his new sofa is too high, he and Rachel agree to deliver to his home on their own. As they navigated through the stairwell, Ross’ instructions became more annoying (and hilarious) than helpful.


“Pivot!” is perhaps one of the most well-known Ross phrases. Personal branding is about building familiarity with who you are or what you stand for. Showing personality and authenticity helps to do just that. Joe Binder started his personal branding journey through YouTube. In those days he would specifically use the word ‘stunning’ throughout all his video content. Even though friends would

poke fun at the overuse of the word when describing a pretty landscape or tasty burger, his followers would also laugh at the overuse when watching the videos. The word ‘stunning’ became something to expect as part of Joe’s content and became part of his persona. Utilising language and catch phrases can help to drive word association, it will drive engagement and ultimately views. People would later use the word ‘stunning’ in conversation and blame Joe’s content. Suddenly you are, much like Ross’ famous ‘pivot’, remembered.




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