NHS England

NHS identity policy and online guidelines

Bringing clarity to an iconic brand

The famous blue lozenge has been around since the early 1990’s, but its use hadn’t been reviewed since 1999. A new NHS structure had been introduced with new CCGs and Foundation Trusts. The existing guidelines (spread over 19 documents), didn’t include guidance for digital communications, and were seriously outdated. Some NHS organisations had also introduced their own identities, leading to confusion amongst patients and the public.

With NHS services now being delivered by different organisations, including private sector operators, a new approach was needed to provide patients with clear signposting to their NHS services. New guidelines were needed to bring consistency and clarity, and how to use the identity in modern communications.

Putting patients first

Our approach was to develop a comprehensive Identity Policy, designed to help 600 NHS organisations achieve the consistent, national standard that patients expect.

The new Policy is based on a set of over-arching principles, designed to ensure the interests and needs of patients and the public are considered first and aligned to the NHS Constitution. It also covers who can and can’t use the NHS Identity, how the core elements should be used and the responsibilities for ensuring correct implementation.

Comprehensive guidelines reflect the Policy. These were designed for all levels of user, were online and contained over 50 visual examples to illustrate the new approach. 600 sets of assets were also developed for the NHS organisations to help them implement the identity both consistently and cost effectively.

The results so far

After 2 years of development work, an informal launch was achieved in late 2016. A number of NHS organisations, trusts and CCGs used the new assets and guidelines to test their usefulness. Following successful testing, the new NHS identity guidelines website was launched on 4 January 2017.

The new approach will be implemented over the long term, with materials only being rebranded when due for natural replacement. This and the use of the new asset packs and a new culture of sharing artwork, will lead to a significant reduction in the total NHS design spend.

“I’m struggling to put into words just how valuable this experience has been, for us and for the entire NHS organisation.”

Julie Haddon, Head of Identity, NHS England