Singapore: Is a Nation a Brand?

I believe so.

“The effect of a country’s image on the brands based there and the economy as a whole makes a nation brand the most important asset of any state.”

David Haigh, CEO Brand Finance

The very principles that drive the success of a company or product brand, i.e. brand positioning, brand personality, unique selling proposition, supporting evidence, etc., can very much be applied to a nation. Like it or not, nations compete with other nations in the global marketplace. The products it exports to the world and the people it attracts as investors and tourists depends heavily on the perception of outsiders on the ‘brand positioning’ of the nation.

Back in 2019, Brand Finance conducted again it’s annual study on the Brand Strength Index (or BSI) of a ‘Nation Brand’.

Nick Routley writes in Visual Capitalist:

“Brand Finance uses three pillars to calculate a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score:

  1. Goods & Services: Includes factors such as openness to tourism, market size, and trade rules
  2. Society: Includes factors such as quality of life, corruption, and cultural image
  3. Investment: Includes items such as talent retention, use of technology, R&D, taxation, and regulation

The BSI score is then used to calculate a hypothetical royalty rate, and to forecast revenues to ultimately derive a brand value (post-tax revenues discounted to calculate a net present value). This calculation produces the “Brand Value” of a country.””

Using the BSI score, Singapore came out on top again in 2019, for the 5th consecutive year with a score of 90.5.

The famous Singapore skyline at night with the Marina Bay Sands Hotel providing a stunning backdrop.

In 2017, Singapore launched its new tagline “Passion Made Possible“.

Mr Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said, “With Passion Made Possible, STB is presenting a brand that can tell a fuller Singapore story beyond just tourism. This brand articulates what we stand for as a country and supports the telling of many stories about this destination and its people. It will allow us to build a deeper and more personal connection between Singapore and our fans and friends, even when they are not actively thinking about travel. This brand is in line with Quality Tourism as it will appeal to the more sophisticated tourists who are seeking more aspirational value propositions in their travel.” 

The new campaign is based on the insight that today’s traveller is no longer attracted to cookie-cutter tour packages, but rather, want an authentic local experience that they can immerse themselves with. Therefore, as part of its marketing mix, Passion Made Possible has enlisted about 100 real Singaporeans, dubbed as Passion Ambassadors, who showcase their lifelong passions to provide more depth and soul to the people of Singapore, with the net effect of sending the message that the travel experience that a visitor will gain is borne out of the passionate work of its people.

One such Passion Ambassador is Subaraj Rajathurai, a Wildlife Consultant & Nature Guide. “He is a self-taught guide who has been calling the outdoors his second home for over 35 years. Take a guided walk on the wild side of Singapore where the city centre and rainforests are just 30 minutes apart,” says one of the adverts which forms part of the new campaign. It’s a clever play on the new slogan while highlighting one of the key attractions of Singapore: “a city within a garden“.

Singapore, as a brand, has clearly gone to the lengths of deeply understanding its target customers, and have crafted an effective new positioning that builds on its believable and authentic USPs. As a result also of its study, it has broadened its target market to more defined and aspirational travelers like “Foodies”, “Explorers”, “Collectors”, “Socialisers”, “Action Seekers”, “Culture Shapers”, and has re-structured its website to cater to these specific segments.

The new campaign, through storytelling, showcases the fundamentals of the nation – its cultural diversity, rich food heritage and the mindset of its people shaped by unique circumstances. In other words, qualities that Singapore already has.

Dr Lynda Wee, Adjunct Associate Professor at NTU’s Business School

There is a reason why Singapore continues to be able to maintain its status in the global market as one of the most attractive and competitive countries. That is because it has embraced the timeless principles of branding and have executed sustained efforts in continually building upon its unique position as a destination for travel and business.

2 thoughts on “Singapore: Is a Nation a Brand?

  1. This reminds me of the concept of Geographic Indicators in the field of Intellectual Property protection. We have yet to fully embrace this concept in the Philippines but Europe has certainly made a head start.


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