Mostly thumbs up for Singapore's new brand

Many industry players praise slogan, though some tourists are unsure about the wording

Reactions to Singapore's new brand, "Passion Made Possible", have been mixed, with industry players mostly praising it, while early indications are that tourists have their reservations.

Where they agreed was that the new branding attempts to capture the heart and soul of Singapore.

Ms Yu Yah-Leng, creative director of brand agency Foreign Policy Design Group, said: "We're proud to say that we're not just showing our grand architecture and the Merlion, but that we have our little cultures we're really proud of and our lifestyles that we want to talk about."

The result of a partnership between the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Economic Development Board, the slogan was unveiled on Thursday. A key feature is a shift towards storytelling, while the "unified" brand will be sold to both tourists and businesses. The tagline is also accompanied by a logo that draws on the popularity of the SG50 mark, with the letters SG inside a circle.

Most tour agencies praised the new branding direction. Chan Brothers Travel's marketing communications executive Justine Koh said removing the word "Singapore" from the slogan changes the focus to the nation's "soul and mindset".

There is more interest in going beyond the main attractions, said industry experts.

Ms Shalini Lalwani, founder of Ruby Dot Trails, said the number of tourists going for her "heartland tour" has increased by about 40 per cent this year compared with 2016. "The tourists go into the food centre, the wet market... and these tours always overrun because visitors are so curious and want to know the real Singapore story."

But Diethelm Travel Singapore's general manager Judy Lum said that while the slogan "tells the world about Singaporeans, it doesn't tell the world about Singapore". "STB is supposed to promote Singapore as a holiday destination... If you want to attract visitors to Singapore, I would expect the branding to tell the world what Singapore, rather than Singaporeans, can offer,"she said.

Nonetheless, the slogan is wide enough to encompass different messages "under the umbrella of Passion Made Possible", said Mr Nico Stouthart, managing partner at marketing consultancy Kantar Vermeer.

Tourists were more ambivalent.

Ms Dorothea Volz, a public relations agent from Germany, said that experiencing the way locals live is "the tourist dream". But she said if the shift means too many tourists entering Singapore's heartland, it could negatively impact citizens, who might end up feeling like tourist attractions. Ms Volz, 35, visited Singapore for four days last month.

She added that the word "passion" gave her pause: "If I think about it in an innocent way, it sounds a bit like a retreat slogan. And if I think not so innocently, it could be for some kind of escort service."

Dutchman Bjorn van Noord, 26, who spent 51/2 days here in February, said that though the slogan was "a bit over the top", it fit his impression of the country.

The network planner at a bus company said: "I perceived Singapore as a very diverse community with people from all parts of Asia and the world who came to build a new life and live together, so Passion Made Possible makes sense to me."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2017, with the headline 'Mostly thumbs up for S'pore's new brand'. Print Edition | Subscribe