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Yesterday, a friend wrote that something wasn't up to "Singapore standard" and I took a second look at that term. I emailed her and told her that I wasn't sure if people know what exactly is "Singapore standard".

Thinking further about it, it is interesting that Singapore - a well-regarded, affluent city-state with a high standard of living - is unable to position itself as a country with high standards. German engineering, Swiss Made, and Japanese precision illustrate how countries are able to market themselves to the world due to their perceived exacting standards. In many regards, Singapore should also be on that list. 

Singapore is one of the most affluent countries in the world, ranked second in terms of safety, third in global education, and placed top ten in terms of innovation. Granted, it's not easy for countries to change the mindset of consumers, but the mass admiration for Korean products now versus 10-20 years ago shows that it is entirely possible. Hyundai cars, LG TVs, and Samsung phones were previously perceived as inferior to Japanese made product, but Korean chaebols poured millions into R&D and marketed themselves extensively. Now, Korean products are held in the same regard as Japanese products, if not better. If we look at the chart below, South Korea now leads the world in innovation. Of the top 10 countries on the list, I think Singapore is the one that would seem foreign to most people. 

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2338.0"] Global Innovation Index¬†http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-innovative-countries/ Global Innovation Index http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-innovative-countries/ [/caption]

Some might argue that Singapore Airlines, which consistently ranked as the best airline in the world, means that people do know that the Singapore standard equates to quality. I would argue that it just means great service, not necessarily high standard. All Nippon Airways or Asiana Airlines may not rank as high as Singapore Airlines, but the perception is that Japanese and Korean products/engineering are superior to Singaporean products/engineering. Just because you're good in service doesn't mean that you're good at producing quality products. 

Given the adage - "It is easier to criticize than to do better" - my suggestion is that the government works with companies to encourage them to use the country in their marketing, much like how most Swiss watches use the phrase "Swiss Made" and how German luxury car brands Mercedes and BMW tout "German engineering". Given Singapore's successes and it's kiasu spirit, it should try to achieve a market position where "Singapore standard" actually means something to the world. 

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