Experience Panels: branding of Social Security Scotland

Findings from research into Social Security Scotland’s name and logo, and branding and wording guidance.

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This report contains the findings from two phases of research. The first phase took place in November 2017 and comprised fifteen focus groups and three interviews covering potential names, logos and straplines for the new social security service. Eighty-three Experience Panel members took part in this phase.

Part of this phase was undertaken by contractors as part of a wider piece of work informing the branding and name of Social Security Scotland (the agency). This report draws on analysis of the seven focus groups led by Scottish Government researchers, and on a summary report on the other eight focus groups provided by The Gate subcontracted to TNS. Scottish Government researchers were present at all sessions, including those ran by the subcontractor.

The second phase took place in May and June 2018 and comprised a survey and six focus groups covering the branding and language guidelines for Social Security Scotland. Eighteen Experience Panel members took part across four interviews and two focus groups. A further ninety-two completed an online survey.

This was primarily a qualitative piece of research exploring the range and reasons for views. It is therefore not appropriate to give exact numbers of focus group and interview participants expressing each view, and survey percentages are given to to give a broad sense of the balance of opinion only.

Agency Name and related words

Around three out of four participants said they were comfortable with the terms ‘entitlements’ and ‘social security’ with slightly fewer being comfortable with ‘benefits’. Some participants disliked the word ‘benefits’ because they felt it represented part of the negative stigma associated with claiming social security.

Participants were generally divided about the proposed names, with positive and negative points raised for each. In general, participants did not like the name ‘Benefits Scotland’ believing it was not sufficiently different from what came before. The word ‘benefits’ was also problematic for some participants.

Some participants favoured ‘Entitlements Scotland’ however concerns were raised around how understandable this name was, with some participants feeling it did not adequately reflect the agency’s purpose.

‘Social Security Scotland’ and ‘Social Security Agency Scotland’ were received more positively. Some participants did not like the word ‘agency’ being included in the title and believed ‘Social Security Agency Scotland’ was too long for a name. Participants were generally positive about ‘Social Security Scotland’, however some did not like the use of the word ‘social security’ feeling it was ‘old-fashioned’ or had associations with the old Department for Social Security.

Participants identified a number of attributes they would like the agency name to have: it should contain the word ‘Scotland’, it should be easily understandable and it should reflect the purpose of the agency.

Agency logo

Some participants disliked the proposed ‘Entitlements Scotland’ and ‘Benefits Scotland’ logos, thinking they did not reflect the agency’s purpose or were ‘meaningless’. Participants tended to have no strong feelings either way on the ‘Social Security Scotland’ logo. Many participants felt positively towards the ‘Social Security Agency Scotland’ logo, seeing the logo as ‘distinctive’ and ‘positive’.

Agency strapline

Participants were mostly positive about the strapline ‘Enabling, Supporting, Advising’, feeling that it was ‘supportive’ and ‘helpful’. Some questioned how realistic such a strapline could be whilst others felt that the words were in the wrong order.

The straplines ‘Built around you’ and ‘Your social security agency’ were received positively by some, however others felt that these straplines were ‘vague’, did not say anything about the new agency or were ‘impersonal’.

‘Dignity Fairness Respect’ was well received and participants felt that this strapline would guide the behaviour of clients and staff and was ‘bold’, ‘political’ and ‘fresh’.

Branding elements

On the whole, participants viewed the suggested colour palette positively, feeling that the colours were markedly different from those used by the Department for Work and Pensions. Participants felt that accessibility was an important consideration when deciding how and where to use colours. They also noted that whilst they were positive about the colours, this depended on the context in which they were used.

Participants were broadly positive about the example photos. However, they expected agency photos to be inclusive and portray different genders, ages, ethnicities and disabilities. Particular value was placed on photos which appeared to be authentic and not posed. Some participants believed the photos they were shown were not as inclusive as they could be as they lacked certain groups of people, or did not reflect their experience of visiting an office.

The proposed icons were seen as clear, easy to understand and helpful however participants did express some concern over how inclusive they were (especially for the male/female and wheelchair icon). They noted there was a balance to be struck between using newer, more inclusive icons that fewer people may understand compared to icons that may be seen as less inclusive but more universal.

Participants were most comfortable with the word ‘individuals’ being used to describe those who claim social security (90 per cent), however ‘clients’ and ‘applicants’ also scored highly (76 per cent and 78 per cent respectively). Participants were more mixed in their feelings for words used to describe disability, however focus group participants generally agreed with the principle of putting the person first (for example, ‘person with a disability’ rather than ‘disabled person’).


Email: James Miller

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