Experience Panels: branding of Social Security Scotland

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

This document is part of a collection

Background and research methods

The Scottish Government is becoming responsible for eleven of the benefits previously delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). As part of the work to prepare for this change, the Scottish Government set up the Social Security Experience Panels. The Experience Panels are made up of over 2,400 people across Scotland who have recent experience of claiming at least one of the benefits that will be devolved to Scotland.

The Scottish Government is working with Experience Panel members to design a new social security system that works for the people of Scotland. The benefits devolved to the Scottish Government will be delivered by Social Security Scotland – Scotland’s new social security agency.

As part of the formation of Social Security Scotland, researchers from the Scottish Government have met with Experience Panel members to hear their thoughts and views on elements of the agency’s branding and language guidelines.

In phase one of the research, fifteen focus groups and three interviews took place in November 2017 exploring Experience Panel members’ views on potential names for the new agency, the design of the agency’s logo and their views on the agency’s strapline (slogan).

Seven of the phase one focus groups were carried out by Scottish Government social researchers. A further eight were carried out as part of a piece of work by The Gate, subcontracted to TNS. The findings from phase one include data from focus groups carried out by Scottish Government researchers and the subcontractor’s report.

In phase two of the research, two focus groups, four interviews and an online survey were carried out by Scottish Government social researchers in May and June 2018. These explored Experience Panel member’s views on the agency’s colour palette, the style of photography, icons and font used in agency materials and the agency’s language guidelines.

All participants were recruited through the Scottish Government’s Social Security Experience Panels. The Social Security Experiences Panels are a longitudinal research project. The panels are made up of volunteers from the Scottish population who have lived experience of benefits. The results of the survey should be regarded as being reflective of the experiences and views of the respondents only and are not indicative or representative of the wider Scottish population. The number of participants for the survey was small and this should be kept in mind when considering the results. Percentages are given only to give a broad sense of the balance of opinion across participants.

Focus Groups

Fifteen focus groups were held in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, Hawick and Shetland with eighty attendees. Participants were shown ‘mood boards’ to showcase the proposed agency names, logos and straplines. Flipcharts and post-its were used to facilitate discussion and capture the views of less vocal or confident participants. An additional three interviews were held in Edinburgh with participants who were British Sign Language users, registered blind or a speaker of a foreign language. Focus groups were facilitated by Scottish Government researchers and an external contractor. Scottish Government researchers were present at all sessions, including those ran by the subcontractor.

The second set of focus groups covered the agency’s branding and language guidelines and were carried out in May and June 2018. Fifteen participants took part across two focus groups and four interviews.

A Scottish Government staff member acted as a note-taker in each session. The second set of focus groups were recorded and transcribed. The analysis is based on these notes and transcripts.

Survey Method

All 2,456 Experience Panel members were invited to take part in the survey called ‘Help us with the new social security branding and words we will use’. Participation in all Experience Panels research is optional, and in this case ninety-two Experience Panel members chose to complete the survey (3.75 per cent).

The information was added to information from the ‘About Your Benefits and You’ (Scottish Government, 2017[2]) and ‘Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far’ (Scottish Government, 2018[3]) surveys. The data collected in these surveys was linked to the information supplied by participants of this survey as part of the longitudinal dataset for this project.

More than eight in ten participants (84 per cent) were aged between 45 and 79, and just over a third (35 per cent) were aged between 60 and 79. Seventeen per cent were aged between 25 and 44.

Table 1: Age of survey participants (n=79)

Age %
25 - 44 17
45 - 59 49
60 - 79 35
Total 100

Almost four out of ten participants identified as ‘man or boy’ (37 per cent) and just over two thirds (64 per cent) identified as ‘woman or girl’.

Table 2: Gender of survey participants (n=79)

Gender %
Man or boy 37
Woman or girl 64
Total 100

More than seven out of ten survey participants (73 per cent) had a disability or long term health condition, and just under half of the survey participants cared for someone with a long term health condition or a disability.

Table 3: Disability status of survey participants (n=79)

Disability Status %
Disabled 85
Not Disabled 15
Total 100

Survey participants took part from twenty-seven of the thirty-two local authorities, with the majority living in an urban area (86 per cent)[4].

Table 4: Location of survey participants (n=70)

Participant Location %
Urban 86
Rural 14
Total 100

Most survey participants were caring for a friend, relative or partner at the time of the survey:

Table 5: Carer status of participants (n=77)

Care Status %
Carer 57
Not Carer 43
Total 100

More detailed demographic information on the Experience Panels as a whole can be found in Social Security Experience Panels: Who is in the panels and their experiences so far’ (Scottish Government, 2018[5]).


Email: James Miller

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