Brand It Like Bond, James Bond!

You need the courage to do it and the passion to drive it!

The true merits of a brand are embodied in the very things that define it. The mere mention of its name causes the mind to implode with thoughts and notions – a rich potpourri of emotions which stimulate an ecosystem of the brand inside the brain to the point where rapid excitement courses through the veins and the body feels overwhelmed by the sheer idea of it.

The Country Branding Series touches something that explodes with pure star quality this time around, orbiting an exquisite genus of eminence which surpasses the run-of-the-mill quintessence that embodies a brand by miles. In essence – it is a higher form of branding! For me, personally, nothing speaks of exquisite, timeless branding like James Bond. He portrays style, deftness and quality in a way that redefines the very meaning of such words as we understand them.

The whole world has come to know of James Bond ever since Ian Fleming released his first of a series of novels, Casino Royale, in 1953. After evolving further via television, radio and comics, the ever popular ‘spy story to end all spy stories’ took to film in 1962 with Dr. No. And the rest, as they say, is blockbuster history. Even the Bond titles are particularly catchy – one could never forget undying names like Live and Let Die; From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker, A View to a Kill, Octopussy, Tomorrow Never Dies, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre – amongst an array of others.

As a secret agent, regardless of who the actor is, be it Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig, 007 exudes star quality – a sort of fineness that every brand should have. Each James Bond actor is meticulously selected; and his co-stars and supporting actors evolve to become constants in the franchise which ultimately add on to the Bond saga. Not to mention any lucky lady who becomes a Bond Girl is immortalized and raised to be amongst the stars in the sky – an enduring title as impactful as winning the Miss Universe beauty pageant!

State-of-the-art Tech & Gadgets

Secret agents are often portrayed to be at the forefront of technology. Such breakthrough technology gives the agent the upper hand over the enemy and makes an otherwise difficult or improbable task seem like a walk in the park. Nifty gizmos and crafty techniques can make any blockbuster hero more than just a man. In short, it gives agents like 007 just the edge he needs to get the job done – and done admirably. Adapting this principle in branding, a brand must stay ahead of the curve. Keeping abreast with the latest assures brand survival, brand sustenance and brand longevity. Possessing the required knowhow to navigate oceans others are unfamiliar with in its respective arena guarantees success for the brand. And the impartation of said technology, like that of a spy agency, should be holistic throughout the brand – even Brand Malaysia – never once resting on the laurels of success. As every Bond completes his assignment, he moves on to the next one without clinging on to past triumphs, never looking back unless he has to… Ever ready to pull the trigger when he must… Surviving long enough to Die Another Day.

The Car

When we speak about the Bond Automobile, we talk of the pinnacle of automotive excellence (sometimes even fictitiously so). Aerodynamic, swift, stylish, stable, and often outfitted with all kinds of scientific-futuristic gizmos to get the job done. The Bond Mobile is rather synonymous with Agent 007. Car collectors and scale model hobbyists fancy the various renditions to no end. Such an automobile is symbolic of brand mobility. Aside from cars, Bond is also famed for using other kinds of vehicles, in the name of his Mission. In this light, we must possess a brand vehicle that has the endurance to get the brand where it needs to go. Secure and safe, often outfitted with the best for peak performance and to ensure the driver’s survival and that the mission stays on course. Such a vehicle is maintained in tiptop condition by the finest experts in the industry. The vehicle is ever ready and primed for action at the drop of a hat. Brands ought to be outfitted in this way. Brands must be able to navigate any course, ever prepared to overcome – no matter what obstacle may linger ahead. Remember, Brand Malaysia is a formidable vehicle in itself – it must be kept in top-notch condition at all times to venture and touch the global superhighway – carrying the nation through any crisis that may come its way – ensuring that Tomorrow Never Dies.

The Gun

The secret agent’s weapon of choice is the faithful handy carry handgun, the most famous of which is the Walther PPK. It is an elegant yet potent tool that he needs to defend himself, others and in his line of work – basically to complete the Mission. Despite it being a violent artefact, there is a certain sense of class attributed to such a weapon. It is sleek, easily concealed, beautifully crafted, stylish and boasts of a certain calibre of power; and deadly at the same time – respected by enemies. To a brand, the gun is symbolic of the ‘X-Factor’. It is what distinguishes a secret agent from agents of different kinds. And when push comes to shove, the polished and perfected weapon always triumphs. A brand should be fashioned to be a formidable force in the marketplace and in the hearts of its patrons. It should possess a perfectly calibrated ‘weapon’ and have the expertise to wield it skilfully. A brand must take aim and fire with full force – hitting its target mark accurately in order to become that respected presence in the marketplace that has created a mark itself. Brand Malaysia must possess a License to Kill its competition and become a sharpshooter in the international terrain in order to leave a prominent global imprint.

GQ (Gentleman Quality)

Every James Bond character carries a certain star charisma with him. He has style. He certainly has quality. And he carries himself well and is poised for excellence. The assurance of success (confidence) radiates from him exuberantly. Fondly regarded by some to be the Bond ‘mojo’, his sense of chic is matchless – distinctively unique. One look, and we immediately know it is ‘him’ – James Bond! This is something derived both from what is outwardly portrayed as well as what is intrinsically perceived. Could such an intangible quality be transferable to brands and branding? Why not? After all, James Bond, a fictional character created by Ian Fleming, and subsequently authored by various writers, is a brand – a brand that does not really exist in real life – yet has dominated literature, the theatres, the music charts and countless platforms. It is felt and experienced in such a real way! Brands ought to adopt this star quality and become more than what they are. The Bond quality is a matter of pride. When anyone utters the hallmark introduction – “Bond, James Bond” – he cannot help but flutter inside proudly. When you speak your brand name, that same pride should be electrified from within. In your own special way, your brand has its signature quality – a quality that can be felt swirling inside. That ‘brush’ with the brand – akin to an encounter with Bond – can be nothing less than life-changing. And anyone who has experienced your brand should sense that same fundamental nature within – for it is something that can be carried internally by those who remember (even long after a brand ceases to exist). That is when a brand is said to be utterly timeless… And when that brand is a nation, it stands tall in the hallowed halls of history, weathering the cosmic tides.

The Enduring Element

A Bond is a relentless persona, perpetually resonating with the essence of The Living Daylights. Never backing out of a fight, he will stop at nothing until he completes his mission. His dedication to his primary objective is second to none. At times he appears to be an anonymous blunt instrument bent on doing only what his agency requires of him even; but by hook or by crook, Agent 007 will get the job done! He will use his abilities, his charms, his connections, his natural talents and all his available resources to complete his endeavour. Nothing, no matter how alluring, is able to sidetrack him. Such is the determination desired by brands. A true brand will serve its ultimate purpose – come what may. A true brand will beat with the tempo of persistence. A true brand will stay the course of its odyssey. A true brand will not deviate from its Mission and Vision. It will accomplish what it set out to do – and in the spirit of Casino Royale – will do so in Spades! The spirit of a true brand can never be crushed or broken. It will find a way to break forth and attain success. It will always have a certain quality – that defining attribute which makes a brand what it is – ensuring brand endurance. It is vital that Brand Malaysia knows what makes it tick. For its defining qualities, brand ‘diamonds’, if I may, will in fact be its most valued strength and asset, as Diamonds Are Forever.

Akin to a mesmerizing symphonic bliss, in such a brand, everything falls in place together so well. Fluid. Complete. Perfect. Each element enhancing the next, every one emitting star quality. I envision this for my country: Every ounce of innovation… Every strand of classiness… Every drop of immortality… My heart beats with this longing day and night and my very thoughts are defined by it – truly, The World Is Not Enough!

You need the courage to do it and the passion to drive it!

Dr. KKJohan
A man with a mission, he is the Founding President of The BrandLaureate. The visage of the world’s only branding foundation, he built The BrandLaureate Awards from nothing into the most prestigious and coveted branding awards.



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