Singapore Takes Branding Cue from AOL


As the UK enters an era of austerity, Singapore is trying to woo you out of your vacation dollars with a newly redesigned identity. However, this identity seems to borrow heavily from the now infamous and largely unsuccessful rebranding of American website AOL. Will this new identity work for the diverse and unique island nation?

Singapore may be small, with just 275 square miles of land, but it is a nation with huge aspirations when it comes to attracting tourists, especially tourists from the UK. The old identity, despite a name of Uniquely Singapore, was definitely boring in black and white. A font with Asian flair hinted at the offerings of the exotic destination but did little to distinguish it.

The new identity will have a new logo design, a new website, and an entirely new visual character. It uses the popular modern transparency motif, which is quite the trend in logo design. In fact we used a similar trend when we created a brand identity for our client who is a Singapore based fast food restaurant. This image is not just contemporary and trendy, it uses a wide array of bright colours as well. This gives Singapore a modern feeling and a more creative one as well. The different squares seem to represent different factions coming together into an attractive and harmonious whole. In just a simple image, the nation has become a more attractive place to consider the next time you plan a foreign holiday.

However, the new logo design is not the only one being used. In fact, in the marketing materials for the brand the words are seen in the same white transposed over a variety of backgrounds. Instead of colorful squares, the background might have lush foliage, twirled ribbon, shopping bags, or even a cartoon. The intent of this is to show the many facets of the nation. However, the result is a confused brand, which is a shame considering that the main logo is so attractive and appropriate.

American website AOL used a similar approach in their most recent rebranding scheme. The name of the company was placed in a distinctive font and placed over a variety of images. This was meant, like the Singapore campaign, to show diversity and to raise public interest in the brand. However, the result has been a muddied brand with less clarity than it would have with just one interesting logo instead of several subpar ones.

Hopefully, Singapore is more successful than AOL, because the nation is using this new logo as a new way of treating visitors to the nation. The new identity is intended to be attractive not just to holiday goers, but to businesspeople as well. We have reviewed a lot of holiday destination logos lately, with very few receiving good reviews. Very few have been as well designed as they could have been. Singapore’s new identity may have room for improvement, but it is well thought out and attractive enough to help the nation achieve its goals for the future.