“How YOU Doin’?”

This September will be the 25th anniversary of a show called “Friends”. Even after all this time, and practically all TV channels still showing reruns (in fact, as this piece was being written!),  Netflix paid a handsome $100 Million for the rights to stream the show. Catchphrases, hairstyles (remember the Rachel?), spin-offs, t-shirts, bracelets, coffee mugs, etc.; the influence of this show extends far beyond, time, geography, technology, product, even entire generations. As a brand, they are in the list of the all-time greats. As a show celebrating its 25th birthday, and 15 years after the last episode aired,  we still can’t get enough! 

One important reason that Friends resonated with the general population was because it was simply so relatable. Friends is an icon because millions could aspire to those life and friendship goals, relate to many days of their lives, just because they were so familiar. In our last piece, we spoke about the need for employer brands to be real. The next need should be to be relevant.

Amul’s latest panel is on PV Sindhu. Last week it was an obituary to Arun Jaitely. Before that was a tribute to Khayyam Saheb. An initiative which started as a cooperative dairy company at Anand 73 years ago and is today jointly owned 12 million milk farmers, they would seem to be far removed from commenting today on the significant moments, remembrances, achievements, and sorrows of our country. But thats what Amul has always given us. An unbiased, personal, unafraid brand to associate with, look out for, be comfortable with. Much like our parents did. And yeah, they also sell dairy products.

We believe brands don’t even have to sell something to you directly. A brand is an idea. 

Futbol Club Barcelona or Barça is the fourth-most valuable sports team in the world, worth $4.06 billion, and the world’s second-richest football club in terms of revenue. Messi is there. But to the millions in Barcelona, and Spain, the club is a symbol of Catalan culture and Catalanism. The motto of the club is “Més que un club” (“More than a club”). Its been so for a long while.

Coming back to our love for movies and TV, the New York Police Department or NYPD is a great example of a brand that has enormous recall and a cult following outside of its sphere of influence. It has been featured extensively in pop culture, movies and TV series such as Die Hard, The French Connection, Law and Order, Brooklyn 99, and so many more. We may not be able to distinguish conclusively the police force of our home states basis their uniforms, but the NYPD blue we sure do know.  Closer home, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is emerging as an iconic brand in its own right. The success of ‘Mission Mangal’ a movie based on ISRO’s Mars mission is a case in point. 

This list will be different for each of us. Because all of us relate to ideas and brands at different levels and times. But only some of them stick. 

Now, how do we ensure that they do? Let us know what you think? We will share ours next week.

May the force be with you all!

Above N Beyond is a team of movie, music and TV buffs. Between the eight of us, we cover interests ranging from Golmaal Returns to Citizen Kane.