Could Yuna be the face of the Malaysia Nation Brand?

It takes multiple initiatives across multiple platforms to build a Nation Brand.

And some, no many of those initiatives will require more attention than others.

And some initiatives will take root and grow immediately whilst others may take time to thrive. Many more will require a significant investment in time, money and energy and still fail.

And many of these initiatives will be individual efforts that form no part of the Nation Brand strategy yet will play an important role in the development of the Nation Brand and therefore must be integrated into the Nation Brand plan to be leveraged effectively so that the Brand grows.

The Malaysian prime minister has set up a department tasked with building the Malaysia Nation Brand. I mapped out ten Nation Branding principles here.

As the department embarks on this daunting task they will uncover little surprises that will help them build the Malaysia Nation Brand. One such surprise is a singer called Yuna who comes from Alor Setar in the northern Malaysian state of Kedah.

Could Yuna be the contemporary cultural icon Malaysia needs?
Could this be the face of the Malaysia Nation Brand?

The diminutive Malay singer/songwriter has a wonderfully natural sound that reminds me of an early Sade. Her music is simple, her lyrics are a touch naive and she doesn’t quite feel what she sings and is still a bit self conscious but she has obvious talent. With the right songwriting collaborations, it won’t be long before her songs feature on late night Hed Kandi CDs and are forming the backdrop to romantic encounters.

Yesterday Yuna appeared on Conan in the US. Conan is the most watched chat show in the US with over 4 million viewers. Crucially most of them are in the 18 – 33 range which will no doubt be most likely to buy this music and travel to Malaysia. But it will still be hard for her to break into the US and other international markets. To do so, she’ll need a lot of marketing dollars to help her succeed.

Yuna appears on Conan

I know that the Malaysia Nation Brand team are not yet in the implementation stage but to be successful they will need to be loose, flexible and adaptive. In addition to appearing in front of 4 million viewers on Conan, Yuna has 360,000 followers on Twitter and over 1,1000,000 likes on Facebook. She is a star in the making and working with Yuna will be a great opportunity to give Malaysia a foothold on the contemporary cultural stage.

Yuna’s new album is out on 24th April.

You can listen to more of her music here.

Yuna has undoubted talent and can become an ambassador for the Malaysia Nation Brand. She won’t build it on her own but she can make a considerable contribution to its success.


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