Brand-Building Singapore: A Silver Screen Story

From a fledgling colonial outpost to a symbol of modern multiculturalism, Singapore has made an incredibly remarkable transition in its journey and mission to become the best version of itself. Whilst holding true progressive ideals, key and central to its identity is a deep, ingrained sense of custom and tradition. Originally having been excited about a groundbreaking representation of the Asian/Chinese diaspora around the world, the decision to make Singapore the setting of Crazy Rich Asians was genius. The movie acts to pay homage to cultural institutions as well as works to capture defining aspects and elements of high society ultimately characterized by a delicate balance of continuity amidst change, mirroring side-by-side Singapore’s own story.

Though not necessarily identical to actual experience in its depictions of overseas life, the film does still manage to draw upon and inspire real-life questions. Most prominently, these include those regarding identity, representation, and the socioeconomic gap amongst other serious inequalities of which are not only big issues of our time but have been ever-present problems throughout the rest of history for Asian populations. And obviously, this is not at all unique to Singapore although it may be highlighted in the “Little Red Dot”. A cosmopolitan microcosm of convergent cultures, Singapore has experienced unprecedented change and transformation brought forth by a combination of outside influence and internal modulation ever since its conception. Important to a comprehensive understanding of Singapore is learning about its uniquely complex history, multifaceted social dynamics, and strategic geographic location connecting the East and West at the great crossroads of human civilization.

The public image of any country, for groups and organizations, or even those on the individual level are important considerations factored into the creation of others’ opinions. We must realize that it is human nature and our natural tendency to craft narratives as well as rely on stereotypes rather than closely examine and investigate before making conclusions. Perceptions are absolutely influenced by generalized attitudes and impressions but this is not to say anything in particular about Singapore. Instead, we can commend Singapore for being able to so effectively take advantage of and capitalize on this simple observation. Through careful craftsmanship of its image and “branding” to some degree, Singapore has certainly become much more widely recognized as an important player on the world stage, at least when compared to its previous standing as an orphaned backwater nation on the brink of collapse. By projecting influence, strength, and unity as well as marketing itself as a global leader in many highly competitive and cutting-edge areas ranging from finance to technology to education, Singapore has made a remarkable turnaround in just mere decades and now established itself as a truly convergent power.

Singapore today is synonymous with order, opulence, and openness. It definitely deserves credit in building a society that upholds shared core moral values although it is sometimes regarded as being too strict or authoritative- think about their notorious chewing gum ban- in addition to widespread criticism of having double standards like those surrounding the general mistreatment of migrant workers, a topic which was so up front and personal during the COVID pandemic. Despite these challenges, Singapore has risen up again and again to the occasion and effectively tackled them head-on. In some ways, Singapore is run like a corporation having a fixed focus on its mission statement to improve itself socioeconomically by harnessing continuous growth and development. It conveys a unified message to the rest of the world by advertising itself like previously mentioned as a hub for innovation and hotspot for talent as well as forging straight ahead with its various forays into becoming, for example, a premier international travel and hospitality destination. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, Singapore portrays itself as diverse, multicultural, and accepting, achieving what on the surface may seem to be a very harmonious society with an embrace and appreciation for its historic underpinnings.