Sunday, March 09, 2008

Branding, learning and government

Departmental disaster brands
You get the sense that recent government departments were cobbled together in some half-cocked, rushed meeting. DCSF, DCMS, DIUS and BERR. Memorable or what? They’re a hotch-potch of disparate nouns thrown together with no attention paid to whether they scan, make sense or are memorable. In fact, they break every branding rule in the book. They don’t scan, mix categories, are overlong, have difficult to pronounce acronyms, and are hard to remember.

Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)
Sure, I get the holistic ‘for children’ bit, but why not simply call it the Department for Children. Children go to school and have families. You
can’t even pronounce the acronym as a single word and even when you do it letter by letter, it’s clumsy. What a lousy brand.

Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS)
Another mouth
ful. Is ‘Innovation’ really an area of government responsibility? I think not. It’s really all that small business stuff – tax credits etc with the British National Space Centre thrown in (actually some horrible offices in Victoria Street, London).

By including Universities they also demote the colleges. They also disassociate skills from schools (in another department), despite their stated intention to make schools more vocational. It’s all wrong and therefore all screwed up.

Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)
Suddenly they’ve
dropped the ‘Department’ destroying any semblance of group branding. We now have Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. What’s the difference between business and enterprise? Not much. As for ‘regulatory reform’ this is a political process, and what it means in practice is loads more regulation. It should have read BERT - Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Tsunamis.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Clearly the department for everything that’s left over. People always leave one of the nouns out when trying to recall its full name. Of course, all the arts people hate the sports people, but they’ve inserted another, entirely unrelated industry (media) between them. You’d never know that gambling and licensing (drinking) are in here. And the ‘creative industries’, are plucked out of BERR and shoved alongside the arts. What a mess.

Whatever happened to the simpler Department of Education (DoE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) etc, Governments destroy brands in an attempt to destroy the legacy of their predecessors. This, in effect, destroys any long-term brand creation and retention, confusing us all. It’s spiteful and amateurish leading to a lack of clarity and increased disassociation between the population and politics.

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