A brand refresh for the Centre for Digital Public Services

How do we explain CDPS to one of our relatives? Or someone who hasn’t heard of us before? Visual Designer, Josh Rousen, explains the need for a brand refresh

17 February 2023

Hello! I’m Josh, the visual designer at the Centre for Digital Public Services (CDPS). I am part of the Communications team and am currently leading a project with the goal of refreshing our organisational brand identity. 

Throughout the last ten years of my career, I’ve designed brands for clients across the UK, Europe, and the USA; spanning the private, public, and third sectors, and organisations big and small. This is my first time running a brand refresh project from an internal perspective, so I’m super excited! 

Why refresh our brand? 

A group of images of varying style, showcasing the breadth and inconsistency of brand identity elements that CDPS has been experimenting with over 2022/23.
Some examples of brand identity assets made over 2022, gathered as part of a brand audit.

The Centre for Digital Public Services was set up in 2020 and was mostly made up of temporary contractors for the first 12 months. 

During that time, our goals have solidified, we have appointed new chief executive officers, a new board, and dozens of permanent staff members across all teams. We aren’t the same organisation we were when CDPS was founded. 

Having more people work at CDPS means we talk to, and work with, more organisations across Wales. In turn, this requires a more informative, engaging, and flexible identity. The public sector needs to know who we are and what we do, and they need to be excited by the scope and scale of how Wales will meet the Digital Service Standards for Wales. 

What does a brand refresh mean? 

The design process involves a few stages: 

Who has taken part in the brand refresh? 

Building and designing a strong brand needs user research, just like any good digital project.  

We needed to hear from CDPS staff, our audience, stakeholders, and our board.  

We also gathered insights through brand workshops. These were split into two types: internal users and external users. 

Internal users are any CDPS staff or contractors, including our senior leadership team.  

External users are public sector people; staff of partner organisations (previous or current), local councillors and so forth, with a mix of people who knew about CDPS and those that didn’t. 

Running a brand workshop 

We ran 9 workshops virtually using Microsoft Teams and Mural. We also ran one in-person workshop with the CDPS board. 

Photograph of three people adding sticky notes to a whiteboard. The photo is from behind the subjects. Numerous coloured sticky notes are already adhered to the board, which itself reads "what excites or inspires you about changing public services in Wales?"
Members of the CDPS board and externals add their thoughts to a workshop board.

In these workshops, we asked open-ended questions, each looking for subjective, qualitative answers.  

Some of the questions differed between internal and external attendees but were about the same themes. 

Here are examples of questions to ask in a brand workshop: 

The brand workshops were around 60-75 minutes long; we didn’t dwell on any one question longer than 8 minutes. 

Screenshot of Mural – a virtual whiteboard collaboration tool – being used to run the brand refresh workshops. There are a number of white rectangles which contain questions, and then dozens of coloured virtual sticky notes.
Many of the brand refresh workshops were held virtually, and bilingually.

As facilitators, we must not lead attendees in any direction, but they typically need prompting to dig into their responses a little deeper. It’s important to find a balance. 

For example, I may ask a question about how someone would explain CDPS to a relative, to which they may answer “they help public organisations deliver digital services”. However, this would need to be explained a little more: a definition of digital services is a tricky thing, so how would that be explained? What services do you mean? And who in public organisations need help? 

All of that can help us think about how CDPS positions itself, the kind of language and tone we use in communications, and the visuals that will assist that approach. 

Next steps 

Now that I’ve run the workshops and gathered enough insight, I will be collating the responses and highlighting recurring themes or emerging trends in a brand report.  

Using that report and the content audit (a breakdown of our current content types, brand assets, audiences, platforms, and touchpoints) I will then begin designing concepts for a refreshed brand identity, testing them with CDPS staff and partners, and iterating until a minimum viable product emerges. 

We will want your feedback closer to the brand refresh launch! If you work in the public sector at any level and wish to be involved in the feedback, email josh.rousen@digitalpublicservices.gov.wales

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