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From Lyndon’s Thursday email – sign up here

Thank you for choosing to read today’s email. It means so much that at least 3 of you got far enough through last week’s email to hit reply comment below!

This week, since Ellie replied last week and said “you already knowwww we’re here for the Taylor content”, I was forced to talk about a topic that involves Taylor Swift – here’s my proof of how this works:

  1. Geico created a 15-minute mocumentary about their mascot the gecko
  2. Geico had 4 30-second ad spots at the Super Bowl teasing the mocumentry
  3. Taylor Swift went to the Super Bowl

Therefore we’re talking about Taylor Swift by talking about what we can learn from Gecko’s personal brand in his mocumentry … right?

I dare you to hit reply comment below and tell me how we’re not actually talking about T Swift, I think my proof is rock solid.

One of the most interesting trends I’ve been noticing over the last few years is how bigger and bigger companies are tapping into the powerful personal brands to drive attention (& sales) of their brands.

It’s easy to look at businesses led/founded by big creators like Mr Beast with Feastables, Emma Chamberlin with Chamberlin Coffee, or as of this week Ryan Trahan partnered with JoyRide on a line of plant-based sour strip candy (can we talk about the number of cameos in Ryan’s launch video?!?).

But insurance companies for years have successfully built simplified versions of “personal” brands that everybody now recognizes with their companies. Think Jake from State Farm, Mayhem with Allstate, and once upon a time Caveman and now the Gecko with Geico.

Why do they all do this?

It works! It’s about creating a memorable idea in people’s minds and forming relatability with their audience.

So since Geico just paid literal tens of millions of dollars promoting The Gecko’s personal brand (each 30-second ad at the Super Bowl was ~$7 million, so 4 = ~$28 million, just to air the ads not to mention how expensive they were to create), I thought it’d be a fun exercise to break down 5 things we can learn from the Gecko’s personal brand and apply to our personal brands.

On Geico’s YouTube page, they published ~15-min video called Legend of the Lizard: The Full Never-Before-Seen Story of the GEICO Gecko, it’s a great watch if you like documentaries and parodies. I’ll put rough time stamps for where each takeaway comes from if you’d like to watch them yourself:

1. The power of the voice-over (0:00-0:30)

Most people think a personal brand requires a big personality, talking to the camera, and having to be front and center. One of the overwhelming things you’ll notice through 15 mins of this video, the Gecko basically doesn’t say a single word to the camera.

The personal connection is solely done through “b-roll” clips of him – okay so I know the gecko isn’t real, but for my simplicity of writing we’re going to call it a “he/him” from now on. They intentionally make it feel like they’re using clips from events he’s been to, or moments that have happened in his life, which are then stitched together with a voice-over to tell a story.


  • Create a habit of capturing footage of you doing things, interacting with people, or even on vacation – don’t plan exactly how it will be used, but know that it’s an invaluable archive to be pulled from
  • Lower the pressure on creating content, pull from the archive to put text over a memory you enjoyed or create a voice-over of a few clips to tell a personal story about when you did something in business/life

2. The way back machine (0:45-3:45)

Personal brands are all about connecting with your audience. And one of the best ways of doing this is by telling personal stories. The beginning of this mocumentry is all about when the Gecko was a kid, how he started thinking about insurance in elementary school, how he was different from all the other kids, and getting you to personally care about how he was cut out for this from a young age.

Talking about how long you’ve been interested in your expertise creates credibility with your audience because it gives the impression you’ve been doing this for a long time.

For example (this is a true story): when I, Lyndon, was in high school on a multi-day tour we went on, I saw an opportunity that we’d all be on the bus for a long time together and bought a couple of cases of soda to have on the bus – which I proceeded to sell to my classmates at a profit since they were a captive audience with nothing to do. From here I can directly segway into talking about how I’ve been thinking about entrepreneurship my whole life and…

Telling a personal story from my past may make you feel like you know me better, and more willing to consider me as an expert since I have longevity “in the game”.


  • When you’re telling a story be specific, for the gecko this was stuff like as a kid singing the song Row Row Row Your Boat, then asking the question, “Is the boat insured?”
  • Remember that as the one telling the story you have the benefit of being able to connect dots for your audience to show how multiple experiences shaped who you are today – this doesn’t mean you have to tell everything

3. It’s not boasting if someone else says it (4:10-5:00)

    As people progress in their personal brand it’s common to find the relationship & personality becomes a lot easier but talking about being an expert or your wins feels icky or boasting about yourself.

    A really good example of this is in the mocumentary they “interview” people with titles like “Geico Customer Experience Lead” and “Geico VP Insurance Operations” to talk about how hard of a worker he was and how he excelled in multiple areas.

    For a personal brand, your clients and business friends will usually have great things to say about you. The question becomes how can you capture this to both show your expertise without feeling like you’re overly talking about yourself & also the credibility of who is speaking/writing matters.


    • Remember to follow up and get testimonials, and ask them to be specific – is there a story that a client can tell about a specific thing that made it amazing to work with you
    • Add a title to what other people say about you. For example, if we write a testimonial for you, we could be titled “Jo & Lyndon” or “Jo & Lyndon | Personal Branding Experts”. The second carries more weight.

    4. Get the community involved in your personal brand (6:00-7:00)

    It’s easy to think that a personal brand is all about you, but a lot of a personal brand’s growth is propelled by its community. For the Gecko this is represented by the idea of a Gecko-Con or a big convention all about people dressing up like the gecko because they love what he stands for and the cultural impact he’s having on the world.

    In a real-world example, Jo loves to tell the story of the early days of Taylor Swift (see, told you we’d talk about her) she set up a meet and greet for her fans that was supposed to last 13 hours, already grueling, she ended up spending over 17 hours there since there were over 3000 people in line to meet here & get a photo. She created loyal fans that to this day are probably still Swifties.


    • As a personal brand, how can you find ways to create community early and often, because these people will become your loyalist ambassadors to tell others about you and propel your growth & opportunities faster than almost anything else

    5. Don’t take yourself too seriously (0:00-14:26)

    We’ve spent almost 1000 words talking about a personal brand based on a fictional mascot for an insurance company. But I can almost guarantee 2 things 1) you know who “he” & geico insurance is, it’s working, and 2) if you’ve gotten this far it’s because he’s broken through the noise of everything you could have chosen to consume.

    It’s so easy to get overwhelmed thinking about all the possible things you could do with your personal brand and nitpick how you look in that reel you recorded. At the end of the day, people want to connect with you, so if you try to make it too clean & perfect you’ll start to feel ingenuine to your audience.

    One of my favorite examples of this from this mocumentry is when his “best friend” was talking about the statue they made for the gecko he had an aside comment,

    Bronze is a lot more expensive than you’d think. So, word to the wise, if you wanna make a statue of someone lifelike, pick a hero that’s short. You’ll save a lot of money.

    The type of off-the-cuff statement you’d get from a working-class person who represents their client base.


    • Be yourself – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be overly polished or exactly how other people show up online
    • Show real moments & things you’re going through, because other people will relate to those things

    Phew that was a lot … at this point you probably could have watched the whole video for yourself faster than reading this – I feel like my emails are getting longer each week

    What is your preferred length for educational emails like this? Hit reply Comment below and let me know.

    Since you’ve made it this far – here’s a few other things you might find interesting:

    • Tiger Woods dropped a promo video for the new clothing brand he announced this week called Sun Day Red. The brand name comes with a perfectly packaged personal brand story from his past that he shared at the launch event:

    “It started with mom,” Woods said at Monday’s event. “Mom thought being a Capricorn that my power color was red, so I wore red as a junior golfer and I won some tournaments. Lo and behold, I go to a university that is red, Stanford is red. We wore red on the final day of every single tournament, and then every single tournament I’ve played as a professional I’ve worn red. It’s just become synonymous with me.”

    • If you missed last week’s email on building a Customer/Audience Persona, you can read it here on the blog about how we can learn from a failed brand partnership between Snoop Dogg and Solo Stove.
    • Lastly if you’re not subbed to our podcast, The Ambitious Dreamer Podcast, this week we interviewed Hannah of @alwaysflourishingphotography about the ins & outs of how she created a $10k launch week

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    We're Jo & Lyndon

    Business Coaches for Branding Photographers; Content Creators, and the hosts of The Ambitious Dreamer Podcast.