What's unique about S'pore? It's now yours
Custom-made itineraries behind new tourism slogan 'Your Singapore'
By Jessica Lim
UNIQUELY Singapore is so last year.
To sell the Republic to tourists, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has adopted a new catchphrase: Your Singapore.
It has built a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign around the phrase, one that involves an interactive website where would-be travellers can customise their Singapore sojourns, book their flights and hotels, and soon even have itineraries sent to their mobile phones.
Launching the new branding campaign yesterday, STB's assistant chief executive of marketing Ken Low said it was time for a change.
The rationale: to cash in on the trend of more consumers going online to plan their trips, as well as to differentiate Singapore from its competitors in the region.
Uniquely Singapore, which had been used to sell the country to the world for the last six years, has to be changed to cater to today's traveller, said Mr Low.
Given the new habits of travellers, the STB felt it was timely to come up with a new brand and product which not only engages the visitor before his trip, but also empowers him to customise his experience.
Never mind that other countries in the region that possess familiar catchphrases - Malaysia, Truly Asia; Amazing Thailand; Incredible India - are continuing to keep them and build ever-more campaigns around them.
'As Singapore is different from other countries, so is our branding,' said STB chief executive Aw Kah Peng, who sees the new brand as a way to differentiate Singapore in the region's competitive landscape.
But why junk Uniquely Singapore after just six years?
'A brand's lifespan is six to seven years,' said Mr Low, adding every brand has to keep changing to stay relevant.
Branding consultants, however, say that such branding overhauls could be disastrous. After all, they say, this means Singapore will have had three branding slogans in just 33 years - Surprising Singapore from 1977 up until 2004, when Uniquely Singapore took over.
Branding consultancy A.S. Louken CEO Luke Lim said that changing a brand too often can be destructive because 'its soul might be lost'.
'Longevity is the key in branding,' said Mr Lim, who said taglines like Malaysia, Truly Asia and Amazing Thailand, which have been around for almost a decade, have done well for themselves.
'The new slogan does not really feel as strong when compared with the rest.'
While being something to everyone is what the STB is banking on to sell Singapore, Labbrand Consulting's Alan Lai fears it will achieve the opposite as it lacks focus.
'If Singapore is whatever a visitor wants it to be, then what is it, really?' said the partner of the marketing and consumer research firm. 'Summing up the country with 'Your Singapore', which implies that it's a blank canvas that you can customise however you like, undermines our deeper identity.'
What he thinks would make an effective branding campaign: one that demonstrates how Singapore is different from other destinations and focuses on what visitors can experience here that they cannot get anywhere else in the world.
But he added that the new campaign's interactive feature was a step in the right direction.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic tourism lecturer Michael Chiam agreed, saying the idea goes with the rising trend of free-and-easy travellers who want the freedom to do whatever they like, whenever they like. He also approved of the new tagline, calling it 'more emotive and catchy'.
In encouraging visitors to find out what Singapore means to them, the STB hopes it can dispel myths that exist in some markets.
'We know the perception is still out there in some markets that Singapore is boring, sterile, disciplined,' said Mr Low.
'Now, people who come here can see for themselves that Singapore is not boring, but rather is playful and fun.'
Additional reporting by Mou Zongxiao and Linus Lin
[Really? With ground sentiment about foreigners in Singapore, STB comes up with "Your Singapore" to the Tourists? Is STB living somewhere else? They didn't have a test market? Oh wait, they did. It consists of all foreigners? This is definitely not an election year. Not with this kind of rubbish coming from govt agencies. Retiring "Uniquely Singapore" was like putting down a sick dog. It was a terrible slogan. But this is worse.
Maybe this rather caustic comment online (below) might help... or not. ]
6 Mar, 04:44 PM
A tourist point of view.
YOU KNOW YOU'RE A FRUSTRATED HUMAN IN SINGAPORE WHEN:
1 You are watching TTN (The Tourism Network) for ideas about what to do in Singapore and laugh about how the cultural section gets approximately 15 seconds airplay before they spend the next 30 minutes urging you to go shopping and eat.
2 You go out and realise that TTN goes on and on about shopping and eating because really that’s all anyone ever does. It's a hell of a way to prop up an economy.
3 You are frustrated because the shopping is actually no cheaper than you can get back home, and all in all a little disappointing. Think of how you get fleeced!!
4 The food, while there is lots of it at hawker centres everywhere and Singaporeans pride themselves on it, is seriously overrated.
5 The eating, so famed by Singapore, is, for your average Australian, resident of San Francisco, New York, South of France etc I could go on, seriously average. Food courts and hawker centres continue to serve up meals that underwhelm. It’s like eating in the foodcourt of your most dirty shopping centre every day, full with people who chew with their mouths open and audibly suck in snot balls. Yuk really.
6 So you decide to do what you do back home a few times a week or more, go out for dinner. You quickly realise, to get a nice meal out with tablecloths will cost you a bomb.
7 To go out to a restaurant (to get a table cloth and wine glasses) you'll be paying at least $30-95 Sing dollars for a main course and $60-$OMG for a bottle of cheap wine you buy at home for $7 and wouldn't serve to your inlaws. Get real people.
8 And don't forget the plus plus. It's the final insult you always forget about. Take me back to NewYork, somebody!
9 For a country who considers itself so advanced, what the hell are you doing wrapping everything in plastic? Magazines in plastic, books in plastic, hey, I go to the bakery and unless I specify NO PLASTIC, I will get one bag for each item, then these little plastic bags will go inside more carry bags. On that note, try asking for no bag. It will take you two or three goes, because they just don't get it.
10 Once you've been here for about, hmmmm, one day, you swear every Singaporean has had a full lobotomy and spend the rest of the time trying to be decent, patient human being, convincing yourself that no, they can't all be like this. There must be someone with a brain out there... when no, it's happened again. AAARGH!!! INCOMPETENCE. RIFE. EVERYWHERE. HELP.
11 You read in the local (state controlled) newspaper that the international school debating team blew the local Singaporean debating team out of the water, approximately 140-30. What was that? You expect me to express an opinion or respond to a question all on my own? Am I allowed to say something negative? Why don't you just tell me what to say and think? It'd be a lot easier. Do local Singaporeans think this is a problem, or is this the way the government and the state controlled newspaper likes their people to be. !!
12 Try asking a question of your friendly sales assistant, waiter, employee, I dare you. You will either be met with a blank stare, or they will find someone else, who will find someone else, who will ask the manager, who brings everyone over to see what the problem is. Repeat.
13 You encounter the other extreme often, where sales assistants walk up to you and stare. If you ask a question, you know they will not be able to help you. So do what I do and simply try staring back. I like this game.
14 You have just used sarcasm. You have been met with a blank stare or fake laughter. They just don't get it.
15 After you have visited the manky theme park Sentosa for about 30 minutes in 30+ degree heat you are wondering what the hell you are doing there - and promptly get a taxi the hell out.
16 By now you understand how things work (or don't) here, so there is no way in hell you are going to the Jurong Bird park.
17 You are seriously over not being able to understand what the hell they are saying. No-one seems to speak any one language well. Their English, often as a first language, is broken and they all have the weirdest accents. Lots of them speak Malaysian, or something they call “Singlish” which is like pigeon English and every sentence ends with ‘lah’. You think about how it can get this way. You realise that learning is passed from generation to generation. You think about what it must be like trying to learn English as a first language from a Singaporean. You sigh.
18 Singaporeans are seriously patriotic and LOOOOVE Singapore because compared to the rest of Asia, yes, they are fairly advanced. But on a world standard, they are still a little (..read quite a bit) backward. They need to get out more. This annoys you.
19 In fact, the way Singaporeans go on about how great they are – all the time- gets you seriously uptight.
20 Singapore's Prime Minister earns a hefty $3.4 million (yes, million) dollars a year and he justifies this by aligning his position/rank and file to a CEO running a private company. No one complains or seems to care. Never mind it’s tax payers money they are using, Singaporeans do what they are told. ITS UNIQUELY SINGAPOREAN.
21 You think he probably needs the money so he can get paid enough to eat out in this place.
22 The Prime Minister keeps telling everyone how great Singapore is, how proud they should be, that what they have is envied by the rest of the world, that tourists flock here because it is "The Pearl of the Orient" and that he is the sole entity keeping Singapore afloat. He says, "You pay peanuts, and you’ll get monkeys. Would you risk this glorious city with a monkey?" You think, you all need to get out more.
23 You rest assured in knowing that the only reason people generally come here is because they have been forced to come here for work, are passing through Changi Airport or stopping over on the way to somewhere else more exciting