|Ministry of Madness: departmental logos|
|Saturday, 26 June 2010 00:00|
There are a dizzying number of brands within the UK government. The approach of the Dutch government makes far more sense, says Gideon Wilkinson:
When you take a look at central government in the UK, it is shocking to discover the sheer volume of brands in use. The UK government is comprised of 47 departments and ministries, on top of this there are hundreds of non-departmental public bodies, all of which have their own individual brands.
Why is that a problem? Well, besides the obvious observation that the cost involved in developing, implementing and maintaining these brands must be enormous, you have to question the need for the government to brand their departments and ministries like a consumer brand. How much does the general public come into contact with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for example, enough to warrant its own set of values, strategy and visual identity? Or would it be more sensible for these departments to take a more simplistic, unified and cost-effective approach to branding and leave the individual branding to more public facing bodies such as the NHS, The Pension Service and DirectGov?
How it came about
Historically, new Ministers like to stamp their mark on a department by rebranding. Up until this new era of austerity, it appears to have been acceptable to spend millions on continuously transforming government brands to reflect a Ministers new vision.
How it could have been avoided
This leads to rising costs with each department managing its own logo, typeface, print materials, signage and website, however the Dutch government (and Northern Ireland and German for that matter) decided to streamline its visual identity, creating a new set of fonts and a single logo to be used in all government communication.
The British approach to central government branding is wasteful and unnecessary. There is potential for huge savings if a more unified approach was adopted.
The initial cost involved in adopting a unified approach will be substantial, something that is likely to put off the government, as they can’t be seen to be spending more of the taxpayers money on branding activity. However if it was done intelligently and planned correctly, it could provide the government with a more unified identity with significant savings throughout the government’s term.
This could go further with the consolidation of IT systems, procurement and procedures to cut wasteful spending.
With a total cost of €18,525,000 (for the period 2008-2010) for the Dutch government, the unified identity will provide savings of €5,000,000 per year. The savings will be made through the unification of websites, printed collateral, forms, stationery, merchandise, signage, office environments and event material, to name a few.
HM Government is much larger than the Dutch government presenting opportunities for even greater savings.
Gideon Wilkinson is managing director of Endpoint