Singapore National Eye Centre or SNEC operates within the public sector healthcare network as Singapore’s foremost authority on the eye. It spearheads and coordinates a three-pronged approach to all ailments and conditions; clinical services, medical research, and public education fall in its scope.
Within its ten subspecialties, myopia is a particularly urgent concern. Singapore has one of the highest rates for myopia in the world, afflicting over 80% of adult Singaporeans and 20% of children by age seven. Those highly myopic also risk developing cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinal detachment later in life.
In response, SNEC established a myopia “centre of excellence”—a first-of-its-kind institute for myopia education, prevention, and treatment. Our work with SNEC involved much of the heavy lifting in the strategy phase, challenging and refining the concept, establishing the right name and relationship with the SNEC brand, kick-starting the process with a question: What exactly is a centre of excellence?
A brand discovery workshop yielded the challenges that lay ahead as well as more than a few exciting insights. Challenges included overcoming the ambiguity of centre of excellence as well as the unfortunate perception of public healthcare as government clinics notorious for inefficient and low-quality care.
Working with the management team and other key stakeholders, we defined centre of excellence as an experiential centre for leading-edge education and research. It would operate commercially and while the term would not appear in the brand name, the idea would manifest as “experiences” of excellence throughout interiors, service, and atmosphere.
It was also decided that an endorsed brand approach would provide the credibility of an SNEC affiliation without the implications of subsidised care. As optical shops are named in consumer reports as the public’s go-to for eye products and services, we noted it was also important to take cues from the commercial sector. This meant veering away from the typical clinical experience as well as locating the new centre away from government grounds.
At the heart of it, we sought to redefine what a leading-edge specialist looked and felt like—shifting mindsets from “I am unwell, I need treatment” to “I am receiving the best care.” We created the essence “Tackling Myopia, Together” and communicated it through a new identity programme that is gently un-institutional yet credible and clear. The colour blue draws strongly on SNEC equity, rendered in two overlapping circles—one blurred and one sharp—to infer clarity of sight as well as clarity through the pursuit of knowledge.
Arriving at the Myopia Centre welcomes you with a feeling of cutting-edge care, from the private entry and lounge area to the optometrists wearing “Hi! I will be your optometrist today” badges. Located across Bedok Hub, it anchors a family-oriented active lifestyle community, and has been featured in Channel News Asia, The Straits Times, to Today.
There is no cold reception area, no nurses with forms—nothing about the experience makes one think of “illness”. The brand delivers more than atmosphere: from Myopin, a patented eye drop available exclusively through the centre, to collabs with eye care accessory brands, to outreach in schools educating the young about eye health— all these continue to reinforce the idea of a centre of excellence.
But perhaps Myopia Centre’s most significant contributions are to the future. Optometry students and graduates can now participate in clinical attachments and internship programmes at the centre, made possible by a Memorandum of Understanding between Singapore Polytechnic and SNEC. While myopia today is incurable, with the Myopia Centre’s commitment to education and research, perhaps it won’t always be so.