Information

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


Photos

Survey and focus group participants were shown two sets of photographs and asked to rate them against a number of attributes on a five-point scale.

The photo sets were designed around two themes which would be present in Social Security Scotland’s written materials:

  • Social Security Scotland clients (fig. 7) - showing the people the agency helps living the lives they are entitled to
  • Social Security Scotland staff at work (fig. 8)

Figure 7: Photo set 1 – Social Security Scotland clients

Figure 7: Photo set 1 – Social Security Scotland clients

Figure 8: Photo set 2 – Social Security Scotland staff at work

Figure 8: Photo set 2 – Social Security Scotland staff at work

It was made clear to participants that the photo sets shown to them were concepts created using stock photos and were not the final photos intended to be used by the agency. Participants were asked to consider the style, themes and ideas presented in the photos. Each set of photos was rated separately.

Social Security Scotland clients

Survey participants were broadly positive about photo set one, though slightly less so than photo set two.

More than seven out of ten participants believed the photos were warm and positive, but around a third of participants disagreed or strongly disagreed that the photos were authentic (real) or reflective of their community.

Table 8: Survey participant views on photo set 1 – Social Security Scotland clients (n=86-88)

Attribute Strongly Agree or Agree (%) Neither agree nor disagree (%) Disagree or Strongly disagree (%)
Authentic (real) 55 14 31
Positive 77 18 5
Warm 72 21 7
Reflects my community 41 24 35
Inclusive 56 18 26

Social Security Scotland staff at work

Survey participants largely agreed with the attributes suggested for the staff photos.

More than eight out of ten participants (84 per cent) believed the photos were friendly and almost three quarters thought they were approachable and professional. Just over half of the survey participants agreed the photos were inclusive, however around one in five participants neither agreed nor disagreed that this attribute was represented.

Table 9: Survey participant views on photos set 2 – Social Security Scotland staff at work (n=89-90)

Attribute Strongly Agree or Agree (%) Neither agree nor disagree (%) Disagree or Strongly disagree (%)
Natural 61 29 20
Friendly 84 9 7
Helpful 66 27 7
Approachable 74 16 10
Professional 73 17 10
Inclusive 52 28 20

Inclusivity and Authenticity

The areas in which participants were more often negative about the photo sets were around inclusivity, ‘reflects my community’ and authenticity. Both survey and focus group participants were mixed in their feelings around these attributes.

Those who felt the photos were not inclusive, authentic or both commented:

“As far as I can see no images of disabled people which would be a fairly large part of people using the service.”

“…there are no clients of Oriental extraction. No headscarves despite Scotland’s significant Muslim population…”

A recurring point of discussion in focus groups was whether photos should show clients and staff looking happy. For some, this was inauthentic and did not accurately reflect their past experience of claiming social security:

“they are extremely happy and healthy. I don’t know of a job centre whose client group is remotely reflected in these images.”

“I don’t like the idea of the site being replete with happy, smiling people when the majority of users will be neither particularly happy or smiling, Seeing such pictures somewhat invalidates user’s feelings”

Others felt that photos of smiling clients and staff gave the impression of friendliness and warmth:

“If the intent was to portray a positive, approachable vibe, I believe it succeeds”

“Photos appear friendly and natural…”

For others, a lack of authenticity was evident in how clients dressed:

“I am taken to challenge anybody that says they are on benefits who is dressed like that.”

Despite the mixed feelings around whether the photo sets were inclusive and authentic, survey and focus group participants suggested common ideas of what an inclusive and authentic photo set would look like:

  • Include diversity of gender, ethnicity, age and disability;
  • Be sensitive to individual circumstances – the circumstances which bring clients to claim social security will mean they are not always going to be smiling or happy; and
  • Be positive, warm and natural.

Contact

Email: James Miller

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