Vision 2030: A golden opportunity for Singapore’s brandBY DR. ANDRé RICHELIEU
“As a universal language, sport can be a powerful medium for social and economic change: it can be utilized to bridge cultural gaps, resolve conflict and educate people in ways that very few activities can” (World Economic Forum, 2012: https://members.weforum.org/pdf/GAC/issue_descriptions/RoleofSportsinSociety.pdf).
Truly, sport occupies a unique place in contemporary societies as, first, physical fitness is essential for everyone: it ensures good health and wellbeing.
Second, sport triggers passion and emotions seldom seen in other domains. Sport educates and entertains; it allows people to express themselves and provides a sense of unity and fulfilment.
Moreover, sport unites people all over the world regardless of their background, nationality, language, gender or age. It creates a unique sense of togetherness, of community identity, that makes people feel they belong, be it to a city, a region, a country or more generally speaking, a society.
Since last year, with the initiative called “Vision 2030”, Singapore has started a reflection on “How can we develop sports in Singapore for it to be a force for the betterment of our lives?” (Singapore Sports Council, 2012: http://www.ssc.gov.sg/publish/Coaches/home/news0/2011_NROC_Bulletin/Vision_2030.html).
Coming back to how sport can possibly foster the identity of a community and linking that to Singapore’s “Vision 2030” initiative, I sincerely believe that the country has a unique chance “to kill two birds with one stone”.
On the one hand, by developing sport for “the betterment of our lives” through the promotion of modern infrastructures and an active lifestyle; on the other hand, by using sport as a catalyzing factor to strengthen Singapore’s brand and underline, what we call in the marketing jargon, its “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP).
In other words, we propose to combine the multifaceted uniting strength of sport with Singapore’s place branding strategy.
Truly, “Vision 2030” offers a golden opportunity to revisit what Singapore means to its people, what makes them proud, but also how it can continue to portray itself to the world in a seductive way. Singapore can capitalize on sport by making it a cornerstone of the country’s identity (i.e. what we call in branding its “brand attributes” and “brand associations”).
These, in no ways, means that we should get rid of Singapore’s legendary symbols but rather rejuvenate and strengthen the island’s image with some dimensions that have contributed in reshaping the island’s identity through time.
And sport is definitely one of these dimensions as Singapore already occupies a premier role in the international sport industry which transforms itself into “sportainment” (the merger of sport and entertainment); the Formula 1 Night Race celebrations are one example among others.
Singapore will certainly continue to act as a major stakeholder in that industry in the coming years.
To cut a long story short, “Vision 2030” could bring the people of Singapore together for the love of sport as a healthy activity and a way of life, as well as for the additional dimension it would add to the country’s national identity and international pedigree.
Prof. Dr. André Richelieu, Sports Marketing & Strategic Brand Management Expert, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada, www.andrerichelieu-sportsmarketing.com