A new identity for social work regulation

Those of you browsing our channels might have noticed that we look a little different. To give you some context, Social Work England is set to become the new specialist regulator for social workers following legislation announced last year. We have been building our organisation from the ground up in readiness for when we will take over responsibility from the current regulator, the Health and Care Professions Council 

Our new legislation means that we can take a new approach to regulating the social work profession and our communication work reflects that. In September 2018 we launched a search to find a design agency who could tell our story–someone who could help us create an identity for a brand new organisation that is clear, consistent and engaging for our audiences. 

After a competitive process, HemingwayDesign were appointed to lead this work. This is an agency who thrive on working alongside people to create meaningful, research-led brands with a unique philosophy of ‘using design to improve things that matter in life’. Listening was also central to their pitch which resonated with our emerging ethos for Social Work England. This was an agency who would encourage us to be bolder and challenge traditional thinking.  

At the start of our brand journey, and with HemingwayDesign in tow, we were clear that we wanted to co-create an identity with everyone who has an interest in social work including, of course, professionals and people who need their support. We wanted to try our best to understand the thoughts and feelings of these relationships, to ensure that our approach was grounded in reality, and not assumption.   

Work began at pace and in November we created an online survey, supported by two focus groups. This brought together professionals and experts by experience. Our social work leads also reached out to people at events, giving them a chance to complete the survey face-to-face. We covered a broad range of topics including big questions around perceptions of the profession, how to best describe its vital work and the values and characteristics of effective practise.  

Through this learning process we achieved a real evidence base from which we could attempt to unpick and understand the complexity of the space in which we operate, alongside individuals and partner organisations who share our common goal to improve people’s lives. This collaborative approach of course meant addressing some fundamental questions about our role, challenging our thinking even further, and going beyond simply creating a logo and some nice colour options.  

In early December and with nearly 1,000 responses to our survey, HemingwayDesign used this intelligence to develop our narrative, address key themes and translate thoughts and emotions into our identity and future brand. Throughout the process, we constantly wrestled with language to ensure that this work went beyond cliché marketing rhetoric and put this process of insight and learning at its core.  

In January 2019 and after further workshop refinement (including sessions with new staff members who need to live and breathe our identity), we were presented with potential concepts by HemingwayDesign. The winning design, which complemented our evolving language and emerging values as an organisation was born.

Welcome to Social Work England’s brand… 

Of course, this is only the start of our engagement work. We are under no illusion that establishing our identity will take time and there is much work for us to do in reaching out wider, building relationships and ‘living out’ our values in everything we do. But the process of developing our identity has given us a different lens to look through and in doing so re-confirmed our commitment to dialogue and engagement as an integral part of our new approach. We want to continue to work together with a breadth of stakeholders to find solutions, challenge assumptions and be an enabler of change for the social work profession collectively. The continuous line in our new logo reflects this on-going journey and our commitment to connect with all those who share that vision.  

The vibrancy of the colour palette, font style and simplicity of language reflect our new approach to delivering modern, effective social work regulation. In time, we will develop a range of images that authentically show social work engagement, bringing to life the backdrop in which social workers operate every day and the support they offer to millions of people to improve their chances in life.  

Dynamic and flexible Illustrative sketches will also be adopted to creatively depict our work in more detail and help us to articulate and break down process, procedure and guidance in a simple and user-friendly way.  

With a strong and recognisable brand under our belt we are setting the tone of who we will become. That is with a huge thanks to everyone who took the time to engage with us early in our development whether through a focus group, on social media or by completing the online identity survey. We hope you like it, and that together we can continue to collaborate further on a shared journey to protect the public, enable positive change and ultimately improve people’s lives.

A note from our designers… 

Wayne Hemingway MBE, said: “As designers with a firm philosophy of using design to improve lives, we knew as soon as we saw the advert that we had to bust a gut to get the chance to work on the narrative and brand for Social Work England. After all, few things matter more in life than the work that social workers do.”

Katie Florence

Katie Florence

Katie Florence is the Head of Communications at Social Work England. She is an experienced communications professional with over 15 years’ experience in marketing, stakeholder engagement and digital campaigns across a range of sectors. She's led high profile, award-winning behaviour change campaigns to encourage more people to report child abuse and recruit more people to adopt a child on behalf of UK government. Her work has been recognised by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA). She is committed to ensuring that communication is evaluated, delivers with impact and makes a difference.