The Rijksoverheid is The Netherlands’ national government. Like all governments, it comprises many institutions – 175 in total, including the Ministries – that combine to serve the common interest. With each organisation carrying a different identity, communications were incoherent, inconsistent and expensive. Driven by a desire to communicate with a clear, recognisable voice, the Rijksoverheid appointed Studio Dumbar/DEPT® to design a new visual identity that would encompass all existing identities.
The distinction between ‘means’ and ‘ends’ was pivotal to our strategy. Although Dutch governmental organisations have a reputation for high quality design, it was important to conclude that design was not the goal, but the means to an end. Our aim was to reduce the distance between the government and its citizens and, in doing so, make a sincere attempt to gain their trust. This strategy was at the core of our approach.
The main challenge was to strike a balance between ‘rules’ and ‘freedom’. For the ‘rules’, we defined a colour palette, basic layouts and a new typeface in collaboration with type designer Peter Verheul, designed exclusively for the government. Each organisation can employ these elements with a large degree of ‘freedom’.
The previously fragmented portfolio of government organisations and services has now been branded with one clear identity. This dramatic transformation has huge benefits, both internally and externally; from now on, Dutch citizens and companies are always clear who is contacting them. Financially, the project led to annual savings of around €8million – just one of the reasons why it continues to attract the attention of governments and organisations from all over the world.