Saturday, 26 August 2017

Passion Made Possible: Singapore's new international brand by STB and EDB

Singapore's new tagline: Passion Made Possible
Wooing tourists and firms with new tagline
By Kok Xing Hui, The Straits Times, 25 Aug 2017

Surprising, unique, yours, and now a place where passion meets possibilities. Singapore's national brand received its latest makeover yesterday with the unveiling of the tagline: Passion Made Possible.

The latest incarnation of the tagline broke new ground on two fronts: It is the first time the tagline contains no explicit mention of Singapore, and also the first time the brand will be used to target tourists as well as woo businesses.

The unified brand was a joint effort by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Economic Development Board (EDB), and will also be used by other agencies under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Speaking at the launch, STB chief executive Lionel Yeo said it "captures the idea of the determination to pursue something truly worthwhile, and possibilities made real is the promise of Singapore".

The tagline is accompanied by a logo of the letters SG inside a circle, drawing on the SG50 logo's popularity. "We are calling it the SG Mark, and this can be applied to visuals or text to immediately connote the Singapore stamp of quality and trust, which underpins our spirit of passion made possible," said Mr Yeo.

A key feature of the new campaign is an emphasis on storytelling. Instead of talking about the different things a tourist can do in Singapore, STB will use local personalities and share stories about their passions - be it food, shopping, culture or business. For example, it released a 41/2-minute-long video of wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai talking about his love for nature as he walks through Pulau Ubin and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Noting that Singapore's iconic attractions and efficiency are already well known, Mr Yeo said: "We will build on this by telling stories of Passion Made Possible to develop an even more positive affinity towards Singapore."

Passion Made Possible was launched yesterday at Infinite Studios, near Ayer Rajah, by Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran. On the global front, it will launch today in Japan and later in 14 other cities.

Mr Iswaran said this campaign was relevant to start-ups, big businesses or tourists: "Passion Made Possible, really, is about people who believe that they have something valuable and different to offer."

The revamp comes on the back of stiffer competition for tourism dollars from other countries, but also at a time when the tourism sector here is growing. The number of visitors rose by 7.7 per cent to 16.4 million last year, while tourism receipts grew by 13 per cent to $24.6 billion.

This is Singapore's fifth such campaign since the then Singapore Tourist Promotion Board kicked off with Surprising Singapore in 1977. That was followed by New Asia Singapore in 1995, Uniquely Singapore in 2004, and 2010's YourSingapore.

To come up with the new brand, STB and EDB surveyed close to 4,500 respondents in Singapore and 10 other countries on what the Republic stands for.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic tourism senior lecturer Michael Chiam thought the slogan was good in that it is flexible enough for business and tourism purposes: "For the tourism sector, the new tagline invites tourists who are passionate about something to explore different possibilities relating to their passion when they are in Singapore. For the business person, he can explore what drives Singaporeans, which can open up business possibilities."

But as with previous recent rebranding efforts, there were some mixed reactions.

Mr Kevin Cheong, immediate past chairman of the Association of Singapore Attractions, said it was good that the Government is working across agencies to develop this, but thought the word "passion" could be misconstrued.

He said: "Passion is so subjective. It can be provocative and sensual. Is it about romance, about coming here with a fling? We need to speak the language of the market and not try to be too smart."

Brand 'sends clear message on what Singapore has to offer'
By Annabeth Leow, The Straits Times, 25 Aug 2017

The national branding project unveiled yesterday will give the world a clear message about what Singapore has to offer, officials said.

The Passion Made Possible theme positions Singapore as a place where dreams can come true. Jointly launched by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Singapore Tourism Board, it will also be adopted by other statutory boards within the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

The Ministry of Communications and Information is also looking to encourage other government agencies to adopt the brand for their own initiatives.

A unified brand "allows us to then, in a very targeted way, get the message out to different groups", Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said at yesterday's launch.

"In the economic sense, whether you are a start-up, a scale-up or a large enterprise, I think this message has resonance."

He added that the new brand "offers a unifying theme which all our agencies, especially those that are externally facing, can use and adapt to their own purposes" to reach stakeholders from around the world.

EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin told The Straits Times that the new brand will help to effectively signal Singapore's economic strategy, which aims to foster new enterprises and wed core strengths in industries, such as semiconductors and industrial machinery, with new technological opportunities.

"(The brand) seeks to communicate how being in Singapore can help innovators create solutions for a better world and build successful new businesses," said Dr Beh.

Passion Made Possible follows the EDB's Future Ready Singapore campaign, set up in 2010 to boost the country's image as a creative and innovative global business hub.

American consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) is a multinational that is "excited about how this (new brand) will lead to more interactions with our consumers from the region and the world".

P&G Asia-Pacific president Magesvaran Suranjan said: "We believe this campaign will attract more tourists, and we are excited about how this will lead to more interactions with our consumers from the region and the world."

He added: "This unified brand identity... strengthens Singapore's commitment to leading innovation, to becoming the destination for world-class talent and businesses."

MTI agencies IE Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) said they will take up the brand to sharpen the focus of their marketing materials.

An IE Singapore spokesman said: "There is synergy to have common branding across all agencies. The new Singapore brand personality very much applies to Singapore companies and their DNA, and will help us as we work with companies to go global."

One avenue where IE Singapore will use the brand, he said, is Singapore Pavilion booths at international trade shows.

A spokesman for A*Star said: "The new marketing and communications strategy helps to refine our messages, highlighting how we aim to turn a passion for science into innovation and economic outcome."

Mostly thumbs up for Singapore's new brand
Many industry players praise slogan, though some tourists are unsure about the wording
By Jose Hong, The Straits Times, 26 Aug 2017

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."

Tours to offer visitors a more local experience of Singapore
By Kok Xing Hui, The Straits Times, 25 Aug 2017

At 11am yesterday, Ms Mary Grace Lucero sat in the sidecar of a vintage Vespa for 30 minutes, visiting the nooks and crannies of Kampong Glam.

The 28-year-old tourist from the Philippines stopped at the Sultan Mosque and learnt about its history, saw the Malay Heritage Centre, and took pictures in front of colourful murals in Haji Lane as part of her $30 tour package.

It is one of a series of trips the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is planning with tour agencies to give tourists a more local experience instead of just visiting the country's iconic landmarks.

This is part of STB's new branding strategy of "Passion Made Possible", which was unveiled yesterday. As part of the new campaign, STB has worked with operators to refresh 16 tours, as well as introduce four new ones. The Vespa ride is for those who enjoy exploring - the three other fresh offerings involve a walking tour of next-generation hawkers, a shopping escapade to boutiques in Kampong Glam, and, for tourists interested in the country's businesses, to the Singapore Maritime Gallery and urban farms.

Mr Gwee Leong Woon, managing director of Betel Box Asia, which began offering the Vespa tours on Monday, said: "Places like Vietnam have Vespa tours, but sightseers have to be a pillion rider. We decided to use vintage Vespas restored by hand and fitted with sidecars."

It has seven scooters in its fleet and offers either 30-minute spins or half-day tours in locations such as Joo Chiat, Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Little India. Tourists who pick the Joo Chiat package will visit Geylang Serai Market, swing by a popiah stall to try their hand at wrapping one, and check out the views from a Housing Board block.

STB is also partnering hotels.

Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, for instance, will take guests around Sentosa to show them the last two World War II air raid shelters here, and tell them about Singapore in colonial times.

Parkroyal on Pickering will have an augmented reality app showing how their architectural features pioneered green hospitality here.

At Village Hotels, local designers will create a special room each at its hotels in Katong, Changi Village, Albert Court and Bugis to reflect the personality of the precincts. Guests booking these rooms will receive a booklet on interesting areas around the hotel, and coupons to try out local food - such as Katong laksa for those putting up at Village Hotel Katong, or roti prata at Zam Zam for those staying at Village Hotel Bugis.

Said Ms Lucero, who is on a four-day trip here with three friends: "It is actually my third time in Singapore but this was my first time visiting Haji Lane.

"Going around in the Vespas was really nice and fun. The ride was Instagram-worthy!"

Republic showcased 'inside out' in Tokyo
By Walter Sim, Japan Correspondent In Tokyo, The Straits Times, 26 Aug 2017

Stories are the heart of Singapore's tourism strategy and the backbone of its new tagline "Passion Made Possible", Singapore Tourism Board (STB) chief executive Lionel Yeo said in Tokyo yesterday.

Japan is the first overseas market where the agency is unveiling the new brand, and came as the Singapore: Inside Out (SGIO) showcase marks its return after two years with a three-day event in Tokyo.

"Storytelling is a way to build deeper and more personal connections with our target audience," Mr Yeo said. "To make that emotional connection, it boils down to the personal stories of Singapore and its people."

It is against this backdrop that the SGIO has been revived.

The difference is that while the roving showcase in Beijing, London, New York and Singapore in 2015 featured works by Singapore artists, the exhibition in Tokyo involves fresh collaborations by Japanese as well as Singaporean talents, with 13 of them in all working together to create multi-sensory productions based on the theme "hypercity".

Likewise, when the SGIO showcase goes to Sydney from Nov 3 to 5, there will be an exhibition featuring works jointly created by 20 Singaporean and Australian artists.

"In every market we are active in, we need to find an entry point into the hearts and minds of consumers," Mr Yeo said, with these joint projects acting as a bridge between diverse cultures.

Nearly 800,000 Japanese visited Singapore last year, forming the fifth-largest group by nationality.

"Winning the hearts and attention of Japanese consumers in a sophisticated market like Japan is not an easy task," said Mr Markus Tan, STB's regional director for North Asia. "Consumers here have a very strong cultural identity and very unique consumer needs."

That was why the STB engaged Japanese heart-throb Takumi Saitoh, 36, as its tourism ambassador for Singapore to Japan. He has a starring role in Singaporean director Eric Khoo's new movie Ramen Teh, which is slated for release next year.

Saitoh's ties with Singapore began nearly 20 years ago, when, as an in-demand model, he met Tokyo-based Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee. They became bosom friends, and yesterday, both took the stage to share stories of their friendship.

The SGIO Tokyo event, at the Bank Gallery in the hip Omotesando district, drew an audience of about 2,000 yesterday. The event ends tomorrow.

There are also partner events, including food tie-ups such as a chilli crab-inspired dessert by head chef Malcolm Lee, of one-Michelin star Peranakan restaurant Candlenut, with pastry chef Dominique Ansel of the eponymous bakery.

It is being sold at the bakery's Omotesando store until Sept 10, for 2,400 yen (S$30) each. Twenty- five pieces will be available daily.

Separately, a showcase of Singaporean brands is also ongoing at Parco in Aoyama until Sept 3, featuring 13 local labels.

Mr Yeo said: "In line with quality tourism, people want to do more than just take a photograph with the Merlion. They want to go deep, and we need to push these stories to the surface.

"Singapore is a place with so much to discover."

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