Written by Canon Wing

I teach entrepreneurs and organizations the proven action steps to stand out within their market, improve the perceived value of their business, and better connect with their audience through naming, branding, storytelling, and communication platforms.

September 14, 2021

What the Friends Reunion Teaches Us About Branding

Today we answer the question on every entrepreneur’s mind: How can I give my Brand Community what they really want in 2021, and how can my brand do it better than anyone else? 

It’s 2021, and for the first time in living memory, the whole world has found itself in the same boat; me, you, every customer you have, and every customer you hope to gain—and we are all in the wake of a pandemic that caused a worldwide lockdown that kept many of us way too far away from the people and the places we care about most. So let’s talk about what that means for your brand in a post-pandemic marketplace.

We are going to do a case study on some famous reunions, most recently The Friends Reunion, and I’m going to give you 4 Ways Your Brand Can Activate ‘The Reunion Effect’ in 2021. At the end of the episode stick around, cause I want you to have an exclusive link to an amazing resource for connecting your brand with your audience in 2021. You’re going to love it, and it’s something you’re actually going to use, so be sure to check it out. 

Number One: Label the Wish Fulfilled

Could the Friends Reunion BE any more specific with labeling our wish to reunite with our friends and family?

As a professional namer for the past 25 years, I always tell my clients that a brand’s name should be a wish fulfilled. With the whole world collectively missing people they love, The Friends Reunion is a branding bullseye.  

Even though the Friends Reunion was scheduled to happen before we realized there would be a worldwide shutdown, it seemed as if the timing was perfect. The HBO Max special finally aired in 2021, when the world’s desire to be reunited with the people they love is at an all-time high. 

In America, over 2 million people watched the Friends Reunion over the holiday weekend it was released, and in the UK—it broke records for being the most watched show ever on the popular Sky One broadcasting network. 

Millions of people worldwide gathered around their TV set, not just because they love the hit sitcom, Friends—but because they wanted to feel reunited with their lives before the pandemic. 

Finally being able to see each other again, to wrap our arms around each other again. And the gradual return of a million little things that we’ve all been missing so much—the things that make us feel like ourselves, the things that make us feel like we’ve come home. The act of reuniting with all these precious aspects of life has become a cultural zeitgeist! 

Are you planning a reunion tour for your brand community? Because your brand is perfectly positioned to help your audience feel like they are finally returning home after a long, strange journey. 

You don’t need to try to be clever. The “Friends Reunion” is not a clever name—it couldn’t be more clear. When it comes to branding and ESPECIALLY when it comes to naming, clarity wins over cleverness every time. You just need to listen to your ideal individuals, identify that wish most deeply held in their hearts, and then extend your brand out to them like a helping hand by labeling their wish fulfilled. And if you do it right, they will reach right back.   

Number Two: Be New But Familiar

This is another key naming strategy used by Fortune 500 companies to inspire massive brand loyalty, and it’s the secret sauce for what makes reunions so appealing to the masses. How appealing?

Here’s why New But Familiar is SO powerful in branding: Because when something is new we feel excited and curious about it. We lean in. We see an opportunity to be the first to tell other people about something awesome, and we LOVE that feeling. We love sharing good things with other people. That is the essence of word-of-mouth advertising, which is 50X more effective than any other type of marketing. When something is new AND familiar, we already feel a connection to it. Even though it’s new, we feel like it already belongs to us. New But Familiar reminds us of ourselves because things change! Life goes on, and we are constantly growing, and having new experiences that shape and reshape our perspectives, and yet through it all in our heart-of-hearts we are still ourselves, right? We have our core personality traits, but we can still change. 

Naming and brand messaging that is New But Familiar, gives a brand life because New But Familiar aligns with the human experience of being alive. And it’s also a key component to why reunions are such a huge draw, especially in 2021–We can’t wait to get together with the people who are wonderfully familiar to us, because we’ve been separated for upwards of a year by a pandemic, which is DEFINITELY a new experience. 

Things have changed since the pandemic, and the brands who don’t adapt their messaging to reflect these major cultural shifts are going to miss out on a tremendous opportunity to connect emotionally with their customers. The strong emotional need of consumers in 2021 isn’t to feel like nothing has changed, It’s more nuanced than that. And brands who pick up on this nuance are really going to stand out. The emotional need that people have now is to be able to acknowledge that things have changed, and to feel relief and pride in the way we are all coming together and bravely moving forward in the same way we always have before. 

Number Three: Get Emotional

The decision to buy is emotional. Everything our planet has been through and continues to face with the pandemic is emotional, and your brand has the ability to connect with people in a very impactful way by inspiring the emotions that the world needs most right now. Relief. Joy. Pride. Triumph. Togetherness.

When you Build Your Brand Like a Hometown, your brand has the ability to inspire people to want to return again and again and again. That’s the Reunion Effect. It happens when your brand makes your audience feel like they’ve come home every time they encounter your brand. That is why I created The 10 Landmarks of Branding because reuniting with the places and people that make us feel the most like ourselves has ALWAYS been in high demand. Actually, I don’t usually do this, but check the descriptions at the end of this episode, because I want you to have the Ten Landmarks of Branding in addition to the Branding Checklist that I’ve already promised you. It’s just too perfect for what we are talking about, so I’m going to create an exclusive link just for this episode. 

You know, Friends isn’t the only popular sitcom that came together to offer their fans a sweet reunion through the pandemic. (Although at 2.5 million dollars each, they were definitely the most well-compensated.)

Parks and Rec recorded a delightful Zoom session, exchanging banter while in character. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air staged a Zoom reunion as a sweet surprise to their fans. Even West Wing did a table read with Martin Sheen reprising his role as the President of the United States to raise money for charity. All of these reunions continue to rack up millions of views, but The Reunion Effect isn’t specific to 2021. It is ALWAYS in high demand. 

So as your brainstorming ways for your brand to Come Out of Nowhere in 2021, get your heart involved— get emotional. Connect with what your audience is experiencing. Use your brand messaging to let them know they aren’t alone. And make your brand promise the beacon of light that guides them home. 

Thank you so much for joining me! If you enjoyed this blog post, I release new videos every Tuesday and Thursday on FB and IG, so follow me, or subscribe to my YouTube channel, and keep treating these episodes as a masterclass for becoming an Inspiration to Millions with Branding. And as always the way to becoming an Inspiration to Millions starts with our motto: Love What You Do and Love How You Do It.