SG50: Branding a pioneering nation

Detail: SG50 promo.
Detail: SG50 promo.

For its 50th birthday, Singapore will kick off a national branding campaign Jan. 1

SINGAPORE — I was recently presenting at a conference when I was asked the most important event of 2015. Without hesitating, I said SG50, Singapore’s 50th birthday celebration.

For such a young country to reach Singapore’s place in the world is truly remarkable and certainly worth celebrating. What I love about the SG50 campaign is the branding campaign all themed around Singapore’s "pioneering spirit."

"In the beginning, there were Pioneers. They are men and women who won’t take anything lying down – the conquerors of new frontiers. They were the true trailblazers, the ones who dared to dream. Many still live among us today – quietly, proudly and humbly."

The pioneers are the generation that laid the foundation for the great country that Singapore is today and the SG50 brand campaign reflects that with some inspiring and captivating copy and images of this generation.

The celebrations will begin on Jan. 1 and reach a climax on National Day itself, August 9, 50 years after Singapore became independent. It started on such a shaky foundation, and now it has a foundation that is envied across the world. No debts, highest GDP in the world, lowest crime rates, lowest drug-related crime rates, best healthcare, lowest corruption, best living standards, great place to raise a family, best education standards, great place to work and the best weather in the world — well, for me, anyway!

I personally have great a deal to thank Singapore for. It’s an amazing place to be an entrepreneur. Very easy to do business and very easy to position yourself regionally and in fact globally as a business from here.

We have always had global clients, and we are about to launch in both North America and the UK.

However, the global HQ will always be in Singapore where we started and where the majority of our work will still be done for our global clients. Without our success in Singapore and Asia-Pacific, we couldn’t have even be contemplating launching in other countries in the West.

Every brand under the sun is launching SG50 branded goods and services to inspire others and get on the SG50 bandwagon this is what just some of these organizations are doing to celebrate SG50:

  • The Ayam brand has produced 1 million specially branded sardine tins with the SG50 branding, which was designed by crowdsourcing. There are two themes ("My Singapore Memories" and "Celebrating National Service"), six designs; two rotate every four months with full POS in all retail shops to promote the limited-edition tins
  • DBS Bank is gearing up for Singapore’s 50th birthday with a SG$ 3.5 million sponsorship of the 28th Southeast Asian games and its dragon boat and sailing races
  • MediaCorp has created an X-factor style contest for residents to find a song that can be sung by everyone in 2015
  • Mediacorp and Denizen have also created a partnership to launch a SG50 design a T-shirt competition using the SG50 logo combined with what Singapore means to you
  • Visconsep chocolate is sponsoring SG50 goodie bags for the opening of the new National Gallery in 2015
  • Jack Neo, the famous local filmmaker, will be making a special SG50 film
  • There are specially branded SG50 cupcakes at various cupcakes stores, apparently there are doughnuts too
  • There are SG50 baby gifts for all babies born in 2015: It will comprise eight items: Aspecialmedallion, a multi-functional shawl, a baby sling, a set of baby clothes, a diaper bag, a scrapbook, a family photo frame and a set of baby books all branded SG50, yes even the diapers
  • Jewelry maker RISIS came up with the idea of creating five unique pendants that capture Singapore's history from 1965, and use the proceeds to raise funds for the needy. The limited-edition pendants will each represent a key milestone of Singapore's growth and development based on the themes of nature, the arts, travel, business and food
  • Pure gold and diamond retailer SK Jeweler will sell 999 pieces of SG50 Gold Bars with the tagline "Celebrate SG50 Together" carved intricately at the bottom of the bars, along with Chinese characters that mean "a prosperous nation with blissful citizens"
  • Graf von Faber-Castell will launch SG50 Special Edition writing products which will have barrels made of snake wood (as Singapore was born in the year of the wood snake). The SG50 Special Edition products will bear the SG50 logo engraving on a platinum-plated cap, and will be available in sets of four: fountain, ballpoint, rollerball pens and a pencil
  • Great Eastern announced that it would provide a year's free insurance for all babies born here next year
  • The Esplanade is holding a series of special concerts and events to celebrate SG50
  • The Singapore Tourism Board is celebrating the coming of age of the ­island’s creative scene by taking local contemporary creative talent overseas to share their craft, before returning home for a 10-day showcase. Titled Singapore: Inside Out, the showcase, which will involve a special modular scaffolding structure, will make its way to Beijing (April), London (June) and New York (September) for five-day presentations in each city, before returning to the Republic in November next year
  • From the third quarter of next year, the iconic rain trees along a 3.4km stretch of East Coast Parkway (ECP) will greet travelers from Changi Airport by being specially lit up to showcase their beauty at night
  • NTUC will launch a yearlong series of events and surprises to celebrate SG50
  • 50 Schools, 50 SMEs initiative will see teams from 50 secondary schools being paired with 50 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to learn about the firms' history
  • The Sports Hub will commemorates the country's 50th year of independence anniversary byholding a massive concert featuring local artists performing 50 songs in various genres and the four official languages that have made an impact on Singapore’s 50 years
  • Couples who get married in the Singapore Jubilee year will also get a special memento a SG50 marriage certificate holder
  • There will also be specially created walks, park concerts, walkways and a multitude of other SG 50 events outside
  • Any brand can download and use the SG50 brand to get in on the act and create awareness for SG50 while also associating with it themselves to drive up their own specially branded product and services sales and just to celebrate the 50th year of independence as the Republic of Singapore
  • Plus everyone can contribute an idea and SG will fund up to $50k of its costs if it’s accepted

If you want to get involved or find out more about the pioneering generation, visit the celebration website (

Happy 50th birthday, Singapore!

Chris J. Reed has 25 years of senior marketing experience on both the client and agency side in the UK and now in Asia-Pacific based in Singapore. He is the CEO and founder of Black Marketing.

This article first appeared on

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