Peace talks: public diplomacy and place branding in the 2018 Trump–Kim summit in Singapore


Our study, based on a converged conceptual framework of place branding and public diplomacy, examines how Singapore, through the 2018 Trump–Kim Summit, shaped and negotiated its goals, roles and outcomes using informational and relational strategies to promote complementary national interests and to cultivate its international image. Based on a case study approach utilizing analyses of media news coverage, social media data, international convention statistics, and government communication, we examined how and why the Southeast Asian city-state was selected as host, and the subsequent outcomes. We found that Singapore’s hosting of the historic summit is an extension of the city-state’s larger place branding strategy that has been executed over decades in a substantial and transformative manner, featuring both marketing and infrastructure building content Singapore proactively sought to pursue the role of international peace broker and host of high-profile political summits through systematic branding efforts at multiple levels of governance to communicate with and attract the publics of other countries, and to assert its identity on the global stage.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 5 more countries sign Singapore convention on mediation. 2019, November 20. The Business Times.

  2. Aravindan, A., and J. Geddie. 2018, June 14. Where is Singapore? Trump–Kim summit a public relations coup for tiny city state. The Reuters.

  3. Ashworth, G., and M. Kavaratzis. 2009. Beyond the logo: Brand management for cities. Journal of Brand Management 16 (8): 520–531.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ashworth, G.J., and M. Kavaratzis. 2015. Rethinking the roles of culture in place branding. In Rethinking place branding, ed. M. Kavaratzis, G. Warnaby, and G.J. Ashworth, 119–134. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Brand Finance. 2019. Nation Brands 2019.

  6. Chang, T.C. 2000. Renaissance revisited: Singapore as a ‘global city for the arts’. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 24 (4): 818–831.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Chong, A. June 20, 2018. Trump–Kim Summit: The razzmatazz of public diplomacy. RSIS, Nanyang Technological University.

  8. DeFrancesco, S. 2015, October 7. The curious case of Singaporean success. Harvard Political Review.

  9. Foley, M., D. McGillivray, and G. McPherson. 2012. Event policy: From theory to strategy. London: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  10. FutureBrand. 2019. FutureBrand Country Index 2019.

  11. Goh, C.L. 2006, September 2. Wanted: A single brand for Singapore. The Straits Times, 2.

  12. Govers, R. 2013. Why place branding is not about logos and slogans. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 9 (2): 71–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Green, A., D. Grace, H. Perkins, and H. 2016. City branding research and practice: An integrative review. Journal of Brand Management 23 (3): 252–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hallahan, K., D. Holtzhausen, B. Van Ruler, D. Verčič, and K. Sriramesh. 2007. Defining strategic communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication 1 (1): 3–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Herstein, R. 2012. Thin line between country, city, and region branding. Journal of Vacation Marketing 18 (2): 147–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Henderson, J.C. 2006. War as a tourist attraction: The case of Vietnam. International Journal of Tourism Research 8 (4): 269–280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Henderson, J.C. 2007. Uniquely Singapore? A case study in destination branding. Journal of Vacation Marketing 13 (3): 261–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hospers, G.J. 2010. Making sense of place: from cold to warm city marketing. Journal of place management and development 3 (3): 182–193.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hutton, M. 2018, June 13. Trump–Kim summit: Singapore uses historic meet as ultimate branding exercise. South China Morning Post.

  20. Jayakumar, S. 2011. Diplomacy: A Singapore experience. Singapore: Straits Times Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit. 2018, June 12. The White House.

  22. Joo, Y.M., and Y.K. Heng. 2017. Turning on the taps: Singapore’s new branding as a global hydrohub. International Development Planning Review 39 (2): 209–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Kapferer, J.-N. 2011. Paris as a brand. In City Branding: Theory and cases, ed. K. Dinnie, 184–189. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  24. Kavaratzis, M. 2007. City marketing: The past, the present and some unresolved issues. Geography Compass 1 (3): 695–712.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Kavaratzis, M., and M.J. Hatch. 2013. The dynamics of place brands: An identity-based approach to place branding theory. Marketing Theory 13 (1): 69–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kavaratzis, M., and G.J. Ashworth. 2006. City branding: an effective assertion of identity or a transitory marketing trick? Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 2 (3): 183–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Kim, J. 2018, June 29. Korea should emulate Singapore’s diplomacy. The Korea Times, Retrieved from

  28. Klingler-Vidra, R. 2012. The pragmatic ‘little red dot’: Singapore’s US hedge against China. In LSE IDEAS reports—special reports SR015, ed. N. Kitchen. London, UK: London School of Economics and Political Science.

  29. Koh, B.S. 2011. Brand Singapore: How nation branding built Asia’s leading global city. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte. Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lee, D. 2012. Branding Asia through public diplomacy: Structural-historical factors, convergences and divergences. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 8 (3): 209–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Leximancer. 2011. Leximancer manual version 4.

  32. Liang, A. June 10, 2018. Singapore hosts international media horde for summit. The Mercury News.

  33. Ma, E., M. Cheng, and A. Hsiao. 2018. Sentiment analysis: A review and agenda for future research in hospitality contexts. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 30 (11): 3287–3308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. McDonald, J. 2004. The track not taken: Personal reflections on State Department intransigence and conflict resolution. Occasional paper 13. Institute for Multi-track Diplomacy.

  35. McPhail, T.L. 2014. Global communication: Theories, stakeholders, and trends, 4th ed. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Melissen, J. (2011). Beyond the new public diplomacy. Clingendael Paper No.3.

  37. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release: Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan’s written reply to Parliamentary questions, 6 August 2018, Retrieved from

  38. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release: PM Lee Hsien Loong interviewed by CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, 11 June 2018.

  39. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release: Edited transcript of Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan’s interview with BBC, 11 June 2018.

  40. Mohamed Nasir, K., and B.S. Turner. 2013. Governing as gardening: reflections on soft authoritarianism in Singapore. Citizenship Studies 17 (3–4): 339–352.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Mullen, T. 2017. Introduction to sentiment analysis.

  42. North Korea moves ‘hidden’ embassy to prominent High Street Centre. 2016, December 23. Asia One.

  43. Nye, J. 2008. Public diplomacy and soft power. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616 (1): 94–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Ooi, C.S. 2004. Brand Singapore: The hub of New Asia. In Destination branding: Creating the unique destination proposition, ed. N. Morgan, A. Pritchard, and R. Pride, 242–262. London: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Ooi, C.S. 2008. Reimagining Singapore as a creative nation: The politics of place branding. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 4 (4): 287–302.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Ooi, C.S. 2011. Branding and accreditation approach: Singapore. In Destination branding: Managing place reputation, ed. N. Morgan, A. Pritchard, and R. Pride, 185–196. Burlington MA: Elsevier.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  47. Pan, L. 2014. Misconceptions in comparative study of public diplomacy: A U.S.-China Case Study. Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy.

  48. Panda, A. 2018, June 12. Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un sign joint declaration at Singapore Summit.

  49. Park, J.H. 2018, June 12. Is Kim Jong Un dreaming of Singapore-style economic reform? Hankook Ilbo.

  50. Roozen, I., J. Chia, and M. Raedts. 2017. Does institutional nation branding exist in a Singaporean context? Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 13 (4): 325–347.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Shen, S. 2010. Re-branding without re-developing: constraints of Hong Kong’s ‘Asia’s World City’ brand (1997–2007). The Pacific Review 23 (2): 203–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Singapore Tourism Board. 2019, October 18. International Visitor Arrivals Statistics.

  53. Struxness, A. 2013. The impact of authoritarian rule on the success of global city branding efforts: Dubai, Singapore, and Mumbai.

  54. Tan, D. W. (2018, June 11). Trump thanks PM Lee for Singapore’s hospitality, thinks Trump–Kim summit will ‘work out nicely.’ The Straits Times.

  55. Tarabay, J. 2018, June 12. Kim had a great summit. And he didn’t even need to give anything away. CNN.

  56. Tay, T.F. 2019, February 13. Crazy Rich Asians, Trump–Kim summit propel tourist arrivals, spending in Singapore to record highs. Straits Times.

  57. Tay, V. 2018, June 11. Trump–Kim summit shoves brand Singapore into the spotlight: What will the perks be?

  58. The Good Country Index. 2018. Retrieved from

  59. Toh, E. 2010, September 25. S’pore gaining reputation as global dialogue venue. Straits Times.

  60. UIA releases 60th international meetings statistics report. 2019, June 26. Union of International Associations.

  61. Ward, V., R. West, S. Smith, S. McDermott, J. Keen, R. Pawson, and A. House. 2014. The role of informal networks in creating knowledge among health-care managers: a prospective case study. Health Services and Delivery Research.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Yin, R.K. 1984. Case study research: Design and methods, 1st ed. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Yin, R.K. 2002. Case study research: Design and methods, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Yin, R.K. 2014. Case study research: Design and methods, 5th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hun Shik Kim.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kim, H.S., Lee, S.T. Peace talks: public diplomacy and place branding in the 2018 Trump–Kim summit in Singapore. Place Brand Public Dipl 17, 155–167 (2021).

Download citation


  • Public diplomacy
  • Place branding
  • Singapore
  • Trump–Kim summit
  • Case study