Sunday, March 28, 2010

'Sexy' brand may not be best for S'pore

Mar 27, 2010

Message must be true to nation, say experts
By Sue-Ann Chia & Jeremy Au Yong

IN THE fresh attempt being made to brand Singapore differently, using 'sexy' messages like a country that is creative or which has a derring-do spirit may not be overly useful.

The message must, instead, stay true to what Singapore stands for, branding experts and political observers said yesterday when asked about plans afoot for a new branding and marketing of the country.

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Baey Yam Keng's suggested the slogan 'Singapore: Island of miracles.'

Pointing to Singapore's success since independence in 1965, he said: 'We have managed to pull through a lot of things to achieve what we have now. These are all miracles.'

Mr Baey, a director at public relations agency Hill & Knowlton, added: 'It is sexy to say that Singapore is creative. But we need to also be comfortable about what we are and have an image that will hold true for years.'

His comments came a day after the Government revealed it is working on a new branding campaign for Singapore. It will have a message that goes beyond those appealing only to the intellect and the mind.

Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew said on Thursday at a seminar that the message must also touch hearts and stir emotions.

Having a new approach is necessary in the global war to woo talent and investments as it is no longer enough to be known just for having sound policies, good infrastructure or being safe, reliable and efficient.

Singapore's new approach will aim to showcase qualities such as creativity, confidence and 'a dare-to-dream attitude'.

But those interviewed yesterday also cautioned against getting too carried away.

'Branding is a self-construction of identity, a way in which we fantasise about what we want to be. But it also shows up our insecurities,' said sociologist Terence Chong of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

'We want to be creative and daring, which implicitly tells us what we are not.'

Others such as Hong Kah GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad believe some form of fresh branding is timely.

It is useful as Singapore moves into the next phase of development, so that people will know what the country stands for and aspires to be, he said.

But the consensus is also that coming up with a national brand can be 'very elusive'.

Mr Terence Foo, managing partner of communications consultancy Kreab Gavin Anderson, said it is critical to convince Singaporeans their home is a great place to live. That way, they can serve as ambassadors to market the country.

'Singaporeans don't do enough to talk up the country. We are not proud enough of being Singaporean,' he noted.

But can Singapore be summed up in a slogan?

'The danger in trying to please everybody is you end up with words that don't mean anything,' said Ogilvy Asia deputy regional executive creative director Jagdish Ramakrishnan.

Singapore Heritage Society president Kevin Tan added: 'You will have a hard time saying Singapore is one thing.

'We have always been an emporium, a junction, a meeting place. This is what we are known for and what people come here for. The beauty of Singapore is its hybridity. If you did it any other way, it would not be Singapore.'

Mar 27, 2010
She prefers 'Definitely Singapore'

AND so the debate goes on about whether YourSingapore is an appropriate or effective slogan to promote Singapore.

Mr Jorg Dietzel (' 'Your S'pore', 'My S'pore', it's everybody's S'pore', March 18) gave a good explanation when he said we are all different and look for different things in a brand, as 'your' Singapore may be different from 'my' Singapore, and 'the new tagline seems to reflect that'.

But I think it is a bad choice because it requires an explanation to understand what it means, and when people have to wonder and ponder over it, the purpose is defeated.

A stronger tagline like Definitely Singapore would mean more, and is more assertive and positive. Singapore in no way lags behind any other major destination as a tourism hub, but the only thing against it is that everything is new, and it seems contrived and sterile.

In Bangkok or Hong Kong, everything blends in so well, the old and the new, but in Singapore, 'culture' sticks out like a sore thumb, especially during festive celebrations throughout the year. These are seemingly done to attract tourists rather than as an expression of joy by the people. As beautiful as they appear, all the bright decorations and lights lack 'soul'.

Having said that, Singapore has four advantages (apart from its location):

- Its blend of four indigenous races living in harmony;

- Its friendly, hospitable and generous people who go out of their way to help;

- Its English-speaking population; and

- Its variety of food.

I was born and raised in Singapore, but have lived in seven countries, including Thailand, China, Britain and Spain. Most people I have met during my travels in the past 35 years have good impressions of Singapore. The strength of Singapore as a destination is not just how many people it can attract; the challenge is to increase the average length of stay and the number of repeat visitors, and have these visitors tell their friends about their experiences.

I am still constantly amazed at the choices we have on this tiny island and, having been exposed to so many countries and cultures, I know Singapore is a wonderful destination. We have to believe we are no less than any great destination.

Susie Zanardi (Mrs)

[Here are my suggestions. Some are self-deprecating.

Singapore. The City that Works.(.. and works... and works...)

Singapore - It just worked out.

Singapore - Exactly where you wanna be!

Your home away from home

Singapore - Just like home... only better.

Safe, in Singapore.

When you need to be somewhere - Singapore.

Come for the business. Stay for everything else.

Unbelievable Singapore!]

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