Our work for the Houses of the Oireachtas

The Oireachtas (Ireland’s parliament) consists of the President and two Houses—the Dáil and the Seanad—and is administered by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

Historically, the Oireachtas had never attempted to manage its brand. Its various units had a multitude of identities, marks and symbols. These had been developed ad hoc, and were inconsistent and unstructured, and created a fragmented impression. Consumer research had revealed a low level of public awareness of the remit and work of the Oireachtas.

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission recognised that, as part of a wider public communications strategy, a coordinated Oireachtas brand was a strategic imperative. Following tender, BFK were commissioned to realise that goal.

Brand research 

Before commencing a brand strategy or brand identity development process it was important to ensure a clear and impartial understanding of internal thinking—to understand the perceptions and attitudes of members, and of employees at every level, to the Oireachtas and of a brand for the parliament.

We started the research process with internal in-depth interviews and focus group with senior members of the Parliamentary Public Service and with Members of the Dáil and the Seanad.

The objective was to identify and evaluate the extent and relevance of the Oireachtas heritage and name, and the effectiveness of its communications from the perspective of key internal stakeholders. The findings of this research, and of earlier consumer research, provided a basis for an appropriate brand strategy that we developed for the Oireachtas and informed the creation of a new and distinctive identity

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Brand identity

We considered number of possible creative solutions. One of the more interesting avenues of exploration was to test some brand realisations that incorporated novel symbols that were not based on the traditional harp. However these lacked the necessary gravitas and did not respect the heritage of the legislature. It was agreed that the harp, as the primary emblem of the Irish state, should continue be the basis for the Oireachtas identity.

In an ideal world, the familiar ‘Brian Boru’ harp, the de facto identity mark of Ireland, would form the centrepiece of an Oireachtas visual identity. In practice however, that particular symbol has been devalued by ongoing adaptation by multiple departments, agencies and quangos. We devised a new, uniquely rendered and protectable harp for the sole use of the Oireachtas. There are, in fact, four related identity marks: for the Houses of the Oireachtas (the institution as a whole), for the Dáil, the Seanad and for Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. All four marks are visually related and compliment each other when appearing together. All are bilingual.

 Together with the identity mark we designed a complete new visual identity system to unite the communications of all facets of the legislature for the first time.

 This new integrated brand identity system is designed to facilitate management and co-ordination of all Oireachtas communications and to ensure consistency across all applications. To this end we created brand guidelines and templates to enable orderly phased implementation of the brand identity system.

 This brand identity system is the basis of a comprehensive communications strategy aimed at increasing community awareness and comprehension of the Houses of the Oireachtas. The system itself brings three key benefits: it provides a consistent platform for all Oireachtas communications, it facilitates efficiencies in the management and production of communications materials and it delivers an appropriate, considered and sophisticated visual identity.

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