If Lisa Kudrow only starred in Friends, we could still classify her as a legend. But thankfully, she didn’t stop there. I’m here to talk about her 1997 film with Mira Sorvino, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, and how it’s a perfect metaphor for personal branding.
Since it’s been 24 years, I hope I don’t have to warn you about a spoiler alert, but it’s on Hulu if for some reason you haven’t seen this iconic film.
A Recap of Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion
The movie starts with Romy and Michele freaking out about how they’ve lived such average lives. They worry they won’t impress their old classmates when they return for their high school reunion.
Vying for acceptance, Romy and Michele completely reinvent themselves. They look for jobs, join the gym, start diets, and schmooze their way into borrowing a fancy car to pull up to the reunion.
But what bothers me most is how they abandoned the eclectic style they’ve had since high school for black blazers and refined updos. My favorite scene is when they walk into a diner while on their road trip, dressed to impress in straight-laced, professional attire, and ask if they offer a businesswoman’s special.
Unfortunately, they don’t, but this should really be a thing.
As you know, Romy and Michele end up fabricating their accomplishments and tell their classmates that they invented Post-Its. But this backfires in the best way.
Their lie gets blown up and they become the laughing stock of the reunion, thanks to Heather Mooney who somehow knew that Art Frey is the real Post-It phenom. As they wallow in shame for a bit, Romy and Michele soon realize they should just be themselves.
By the end of the movie, they ditch their suits for outfits they designed — ones that reflect their true style they’ve had all along.
They end up getting both the last laugh and the last dance at the reunion, and they literally fly away with Sandy Frink in his helicopter.
You may recall the happy ending where Romy and Michele open their own fashion boutique! While they were bullied for their unique outfits as teenagers, fashion has always been a constant interest in their lives. This passion was there all along, but it took them a while to tap into it.
The Personal Branding Lesson from Romy & Michele
We all go through a similar journey when building our personal brand — or at least I did. Rather than reflecting and sharing who we really are, we’re tempted to create a more impressive, yet inauthentic, façade. We ask ourselves what other people want, vs. what we want.
I had this challenge when I started prioritizing my online presence as a marketer. I created a polished, stiff online profile complete with buzzwords and corporate headshots with a fake smile.
That’s what I thought the industry wanted me to do.
It wasn’t working.
I didn’t want to critique Fortune 500 campaigns or use showy jargon to share my knowledge or thoughts on marketing. That’s not who I am. I wanted to talk about branding lessons from the , , or . That’s me.
The first lesson we learn in marketing is to know your audience. But with personal branding, you have to know YOURSELF. I know this sounds like the antithesis to what every marketer has always been taught. But it’s true — with your personal brand, your audience doesn’t come first. You do.
If you’re creating content just to look cool for other people, you’re destined to be really unhappy. The foundation of your personal brand should be to express yourself, not to impress others. If you start building for the wrong reasons, you’ll never have the passion to keep going.
Create what you want to create and what makes you feel most like yourself. I doubted this advice at first. I didn’t think you’d care about marketing lessons from an old ’90s film. I thought I’d never be taken seriously as a marketer by sharing what I truly wanted to share.
But trust me, your people will find you. Being yourself is the only way to attract the right audience. And that being said, I’m SO happy you’re here. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two from this silly little blog.