Originally published June 11, 2012
After four decades of consolidation under other state agencies, the new Georgia Department of Public Health -a department in its infancy by comparison-is launching the state's newest brand. Complete with a new logo and supplemental design elements, the new brand promises to be a recognizable one.
"The public health workforce and the people we serve are vast. Our results span multiple areas and disciplines. It's vital that people know what we do," said Ryan Deal, the department's director of communications who oversaw the development process. "The challenge was to create a brand recognizable and yet reflective of our diverse work. This new brand-our first brand-delivers on both."
With a forward thinking approach in mind, the new logo for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) features the traditional three-letter acronym used by state agencies. The letters are bold yet transparent, silhouetted in a red, forward-leaning, four-sided polygon. Just beneath, "Georgia Department of Public Health" is depicted in modern, black lettering. Branding design elements, including graphical depictions of people and modern red shapes, will articulate the "faces" of public health in the design of collateral such as websites, brochures and reports. The phrase "We protect lives" appears prominently.
"Our new brand wonderfully reflects our vital, multi-faceted role, but the research also unequivocally tells us the brand will be trusted not only in our day-to-day work, but also during a public health emergency when lives are on the line," said DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. "Yes, we're government. But we're also compassionate and service-oriented. Our brand now reflects that."
The creative process spanned 10 months and began with an assessment of the department's mission: "To prevent disease, injury, disability; promote health and well being; and prepare for and respond to disasters."
"Creating a brand to support our vast mission means input and feedback are paramount during the creative process," said Virginia Jacobs, DPH's senior graphic artist who brought the brand to life digitally. "A brand is a matter of pride as much as it's a reflection of our organizational values."
Beginning with a pencil sketch, Jacobs drew on her experience as a lead graphic designer at the CDC when the federal agency launched its current brand. Initial design concepts for a new DPH brand were presented first to the executive leadership team and district health director. After months of additional input, five branding concepts were ultimately designed.
Feedback was provided by three separate focus groups comprised of DPH staff, everyday people, and partner agencies including the Georgia Public Health Association, the CDC and representatives from academia, among others. Sarah Peck, the public information officer in the Northeast Health District (Athens), brought years of experience to facilitate the focus group testing in March.
"There were many opinions on each of the design elements, but even before tallying up the results, the winning concept was very clear," Peck said.
Peck's final report delivered to the division of communications revealed that diverse focus group participants overwhelmingly preferred the new design.
"The decision was just short of unanimous," said Sandra Roberts, the department's marketing strategist and program analyst in the division of communications. "I can't tell you how many hours - weeks - went into planning the focus group testing. I can tell you we have a winning brand."
As of today, DPH's new branding appears on the department's web site, newsletters, and is guiding the design of new print and digital collateral. Since July 1, 2011, the new department had been using a modified state seal based upon a discovered paper embosser from the 1960s.
"We stood up a new department knowing the seal would serve only as a temporary logo," Deal said. "Branding is more than a mere logo. Now, after months of strategic development, we have a flag to fly with pride in all we do-and a real brand we know will serve as a powerful signal to those we serve."