When one icon salutes another

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by Lee Jia Ping

Google has done it again. Once again, it has hit home on a very emotive subject, demonstrating how great brands bring us closer, connect us and help us build bonds.

This time the subject is our very own Yasmin Ahmad. Mentor, boss and friend. For an international brand to give voice to Yasmin is a great acknowledgement indeed. From the social media salutes alone, we can see how proud Malaysians are to witness this event. Many have applauded this move, but the delight is accompanied by a wistfulness that the powers-that-be do not do more to celebrate our own heroes.

Had Yasmin lived, she would have been 56 today. Many learnt of her birthday through the doodle and this is the essence of how great brands grow.

They understand the power of relevance that resonates. They make it a point to find out what makes us tick, and then they start talking to us, building relationship that sometimes outlast human ones.

Indeed, great brands embody a human-ness that we can all relate to. They become a part of our lives. They are friends and often leave an indelible mark on us.

Cynics would call it a marketing ploy. But those of us who truly love brands understand that for brands to succeed (especially nowadays), marketing messages have to come from a place of authenticity.

Yasmin did all the above. As a storyteller, she had a simple, brilliant understanding of how humans connect, of the language we speak and the actions we take.

Whether it was packaged in a 30-second commercial or a two-hour film, her work always spoke to us because she understood the commonality that connects us and that is love.

Love. I know it sounds as cliche as hell.

But Yasmin understood that love was no cliche. She understood its universal language and appeal. She spoke of a love that was colour blind and expansive. Her Petronas ads talked about loving our neighbours, a message embedded in a larger love letter to the nation. Her groundbreaking four-minute Malaysian Airlines* commercial spoke about the love that bound three friends spanning generations.

Sepet was about love.

So was Tan Hong Ming.

Great brands understand what their core philosophy is and they never veer from it. As I write this, I can almost hear Yasmin singing All You Need Is Love — to take the mickey out of me and this article, and to ensure nothing stayed too serious or maudlin for too long.

So what makes Google great, you might ask? What is their core philosophy?

What makes Google Google?

I leave you with this quote from the film The Internship when Mr Chetty, Head of Internship addresses a new batch of interns, telling them what they need most to succeed in Google.

“What you need is Googliness — the intangible stuff that made a search engine an engine for change.”

And while we’re at it, we could all embrace a bit of Yasmin-ness too.

*Don’t Miss: Yasmin speaking at TEDxKL in 2009

*Watch the Malaysian Airline Merdeka commercial right till the very end. Yasmin Wrote the script. Directed by Khun Nang of Film Factory.  Listen out for her voice at the end.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP_FemIUGDM

From The Listening Tree Says: http://thelisteningtreesays.com/2014/01/07/when-one-icon-salutes-another/

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