NDP 2021: A Spirited Roar of Creativity
More than a year after COVID-19 arrived at our shores, Singapore is still learning how to cope with the disease - in July, a surge in community cases forced a postponement of the National Day Parade to 21st August.
Let’s take a closer look at the visual identity of Singapore’s belated birthday celebration and look back at some interesting moments of the NDP 2021 campaign.
Identity: “Our Singapore Spirit”
The lion motif is back again, but this time, it is crafted in an abstract way that forms a 56. Inspired by the Lion Head Symbol, Nanyang Polytechnic student Tan Yun Xin won a nationwide polytechnic competition with this concept which was further developed into the final logo by local design agency BLACK.
Navigating the curves and strokes to create the motif is no easy feat, and the designers managed to incorporate 56 without making it look awkward. The dent at the “5” to separate the lion’s face from its mane is a masterful example of less is more.
Another highlight of this logo is how tightly the words fit with the motif, resembling an official seal, stars and all. The placing of the elements also helps to sell the concept of “togetherness”. Unfortunately, this synergy is lost in horizontal mockups.
The theme is something to be expected - “Together, Our Singapore Spirit” captures the willpower of a nation to be resilient in the face of adversity, but I feel the use of “together” may not hold as much weight as it used to before the pandemic. The word feels overused at this point, diluting its significance. Nitpicky viewers may even question the lack of a comma after “together” in the logo, as the theme reads funny without it. “United (in)” might have been a better option.
Artist Lee Xin Li (Pok Pok & Away) was commissioned to create a trivia-filled illustration which was blown-up to mural size at NS Square. His post spotlights some of the characters, such as the Raffles Hotel Doorman, Paralympian Yip Pin Xiu and local singer Huang Qing Yuen.
The red-white edition of the illustration also graced NDP-themed trains and station banners.
The monochrome version of the illustration is used as a key visual for some social media posts, giving them a DIY aesthetic.
For posts without the illustration, the logo shines as a versatile watermark, adding visual interest and even projecting serious business as a seal of approval. The curves are a great way to neutralise any seriousness stemming from the logo.
Typeface-wise, the decision to go with Montserrat was probably a practical one as it can be easily installed via Google Fonts. An acceptable choice, but also a safe one.
NDPeeps, the cleverly-named social media channel of the parade, usually features a chibi merlion cartoon as a placeholder profile picture during the lull period (September to June). Once a new brand identity is announced, this poor cartoon is tossed aside until the end of August.
This year, the character has been upgraded to official mascot status. Tired of being called “Ah Boy”, an online survey chose August as the name for the merlion.
NDPeeps was clever to include other members of Singapore’s mascot family in their posts for August to gain some clout.
As a Gen Z mascot, August is into meme culture and the digital goodies reflect this.
Those who prefer analog momentos can get the “August was Here” collectable cards.
The Road Ahead
Top cap off this wonderful NDP campaign, the NDP theme song video is a visual treat. A Zhao Wei Films and Finding Pictures collaboration, it is a highly visible demonstration of what local animators and creatives are capable of.
It is heartening to see that artists and designers are getting their due recognition via acknowledgement tags and captions. Behind-the-scenes videos are not only cost-effective content, but they can also inspire budding creatives to pursue their craft. Bravo.
If this is the road ahead for local creativity, especially for future NDP campaigns, we have a lot to look forward to.
Happy belated birthday, Singapore!