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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Survey and focus group participants were shown a colour palette (fig. 5-6) with the proposed primary and secondary colours to be used by Social Security Scotland.

Figure 5: Social Security Scotland primary colours

Figure 5: Social Security Scotland primary colours

Figure 6: Social Security Scotland secondary colours

Figure 6: Social Security Scotland secondary colours

Participants were not shown examples of the colours in use beyond the Social Security Scotland logo. This was because we wanted to understand their initial reactions and feelings towards the colours rather than their views of the situation in where they might be used.

Survey participants were asked to rate the primary and secondary colours against six attributes using a two point scale of ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’.

More than three out of four participants thought the colours were bold, fresh, modern and positive. The most disagreed with attribute was warm, with just over one in four participants (26 per cent) disagreeing.

Table 7: Survey participant views on agency primary and secondary colours

Attribute Agree (%) Disagree (%)
Warm 74 26
Bold 87 13
Fresh 88 12
Modern 87 13
Positive 88 12
Optimistic 79 21

No notable differences were observed in terms of participant colour preference and age, gender or disability status.

Views on colour palette

Focus group participants were asked their views on the colours, with the attributes being used as prompts to encourage discussion. Survey participants were also given the option of making additional comments on the colours.

Many participants responded positively:

“I love the colours. They appear easy/non-threatening and are easy on the eye”

“I like how the complement each other whilst still being recognisably different.”

While more than one in four (26 per cent) survey participants did not believe the colours were warm, however for some not being warm was not an issue:

“I like the colours but I wouldn’t describe them as warm, however I don’t feel warm would be a good idea anyway”

Accessibility of colours

Survey and focus group participants were asked if they had any thoughts on the accessibility of the colour palette, or if the use of colours could aid or hinder accessibility.

Most participants did not raise any specific points around accessibility, either having nothing to say or believing the colours were accessible.

Some of those who chose to comment said the use of colour made text easier to read:

“I’m dyslexic and can read just fine, but anything with colour is far easier to read. I’m very happy there is colour and a variety of it.”

“I do like the colours, but sometimes when the font is in these colours then it can be very difficult to read”

Others said the use of colours had the potential to reduce readability (for example, text in a colour that does not strongly contrast to the background):


Most participants did not associate the colour palettes with anything specific. Some commented that this was partially due to the diverse range of colours present.

Those who did have associations tended to refer to specific colours or pairings of colours within the palette:

“Colour pink has a recognised association with LGBT groups and also breast cancer.”

Participants also considered the colour palette in relation to those used by the Department for Work and Pensions and other government departments. This was unprompted, but was a relatively common theme. Where this comparison was made, it was usually complimentary:

“They are a refreshing change from DWP and HMRC which are older, dull…”

“They feel familiar and more personable than the current colours used by DWP…”

Of the participants who had negative associations with the colours, it was usually with specific colours rather than the palette as a whole:

“…the blue and grey, the primaries, are reminiscent of 1970s [sic] Government building paintwork…”

Overall most participants viewed the colour palette positively, with the caveat that their views on the use of colour as a whole was dependent on the context in which it was used. As it was not possible to show participants examples of the colour palette in use, we did not explore this issue further.


Email: James Miller

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