City Branding – Does it really works?
City branding is a long process with uncertain results. The expectations might not give the desired results if things do not go as per the plans. If the desired result is achieved than its equivalent to a miracle and the city gets revamped for good. All the stakeholder which include its administrators, residents, working people, investors and everyone those who directly or indirectly depend on the city will get benefit out of it. To understand the results of an attempt of city branding by Singapore is explained below.
Result of city branding – Singapore City
Singapore as a city is a good example of successful place branding. Even though it belongs to South East Asia and is surrounded by poor neighbours, it has managed to get an image of business friendly, corruption free city with a dynamic environment.
Tourism is the major contributor towards Singapore’s GDP and had a share of 11% in 2013 that is if this sector fails then the country would be hit by 39.7SGD $. Singapore also doesn’t have any natural resources as it is small in terms of its geographic extent; hence people are solely dependent on tertiary sector for income. The total visitors have increased many folds since 1965 to 2013, that is from 98,000 to 1,60,00,000. This is all because of the successful brand name that it has created.
Singapore adopted the uniquely Singapore tagline in 2004 and with it marked the beginning of building it into a world class city. Earlier it had various taglines like, the lion city in 1958, garden city in 1967 to attract foreign investments and build a green Singapore, Instant Asia in 1970’s: this campaign promoted Malaysia and Indonesia as well , surprising Singapore in 1980’s, New Asia in 1996 , here the focus was to attract Australian sub continent and south east region. Then it finally changed to uniquely Singapore which was the most successful out of them. It was because of the kind of thought process that went behind this tagline was immense and a lot of research was done.
In its newest campaign Singapore shifts the focus on Singapore’s diverse culture, rich experiences offered by it to the visitors. The main idea is to get above all the competing cities like shanghai, Tokyo, Kuala lumpur. Earlier Singapore was known to be a boring island with nothing special about it, ‘Uniquely Singapore” was the idea to attract these tourists by making this small place full of unique experiences. Some people however argued that there was nothing special about this title, as it did not make any difference to other cities like honking and Tokyo which have adopted it earlier.
For the city branding 1300 tourists were surveyed to ask them about the kind of things they would like to see in Singapore and what kind of a brand they would prefer. Also local people were asked about suggestions for the latest brand name and Taxi drivers were made brand ambassadors so as to involve the local community and give them a sense of belongingness.
Hidden goals behind branding process
Within this branding , the city has hidden goals in which by 2015 it states to increase the tourists to 17 million, creation of 1,00,000 jobs through tourism. The other focus point is to make Singapore a leading destination in South East Asia by provision of high quality services. Singapore has also developed its other sectors such as education and healthcare to attract investments and tourists. The other tactics which it has adopted are creation of unique spaces and holding international events such The international Cruise terminal at Marina South in 2010, two nature-themed attractions in Mandai in 2010 and the Garden by the Bay opened in 2011,It also created a night race stadium for Formula 1 which is the first in Asia, Singapore was also host to Youth Olympics in 2010. These have been a source of immense funds for the local government and have resulted in tremendous growth of the city. The latest tag line adopted by Singapore is “Your Singapore” which focuses on different aspects with prime focus on tourism.
Background process for branding of Singapore
What made Singapore’s brand name was the well programmed, systematic approach behind it. Marketing was a part but the major policy level interventions that were made by government and the new infrastructure that was held up pushed Singapore from third world to first world.
Thus we can see that city branding is of a help for fastening the pace of development if done in a right way. As branding reflects the ideology of people as a whole, it is about the culture, experiences heterogeneity, sense of belonging to the community rather than just numeric numbers indicating rise in GDP. City branding is thus supply driven rather than demand driven but the supply should be backed up by effective policies which make the city easily accessible to different stakeholders.
City Branding however can be a costly affair and may require a lot of capital investment, hence the all the stakeholders should be on same line and clears goals and thought process would required to make it successful. Thus if adopted in a right way City branding may change the face of the city.
Author Bio: Malvika Paliwal is an Urban Planner who likes writing about the topics which are a mix of urban planning and economics. Her articles have been published at various platforms. Apart from this affordable housing also adds to her list of interest.