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Using graphic design to bring our messages to life

There are graphic designers in our external communications team at Companies House. Our designers work alongside our digital content, press and campaigns professionals to translate our messages into creative and compelling visuals.

It's World Design Day  on Saturday 27 April. This day recognises the value of design and its capacity for change in the world, so we asked our designers to think back over the last year and tell us about some of the projects they’ve made an impact on.

David: customer and stakeholder survey   

We make decisions every day. Do I wear my blue or pink t-shirt today? Should I buy a doughnut or a healthy apple? We're reminded by dieticians to have a balanced diet, and a doughnut is an occasional treat. Armed with this knowledge, you’d expect me to make the right decision. I should've opted for the apple... right?

A series of video stills of a donut disappearing bite by bite and the words 'Donut forget, our survey ends soon, take our survey'.

I was reminded of this dilemma when we were brainstorming ideas and creating the design brief for our customer and stakeholder survey.

We were trying to figure out how to get people to tell us what they think of us. Easy, ask them. So, I asked a friend of mine who said we were amazing. A 100% response rate and an excellent satisfaction score. The problem is, one opinion is not enough.

I needed to create a series of social media posts to work alongside other activities to promote our survey and make sure we collected as many responses as possible.

The campaign needed a consistent visual identity throughout. The design needed to stand out from other social posts and be a little fun at the same time. Posts needed to be varied while keeping the overall look and feel of the campaign.

A series of video stills of pink wafer biscuits being stacked into a tower with the message 'help us to build our future services, win an iPad, take our survey'.

With this in mind, we created 3 stop motion videos using a blue and pink colour palette. So, as it turned out, the doughnut became our snack of choice, followed by pink wafers and a glass of strawberry milkshake.

Nearly 35,000 customers completed our survey, and 25% of these responses came directly from our communication channels. Knowing what your customers think about you allows you to make educated business decisions. Maybe I'll go for the apple next time around.

Mark: bizarre filing excuses

In the build-up to our peak filing period at the end of September, we needed to communicate that the accounts filing deadline for many companies was approaching. We decided to share some of the most bizarre excuses we’ve received for filing late.

knew the best way to bring these excuses to life was through a light hearted animation. Short animation narratives are ideal for our social channels and are well received by our audience.

The design process started with conceptualising the story we wanted to tell and sketching it out in a storyboard format. The storyboard is a frame by frame or scene by scene reference which forms the basis for each design. I then sketched each character and their surroundings and used specialist software to create the animation and the narrative.

We shared the animation across all our social channels and also featured it in our news story. The video has been viewed more than 15,000 times.

Gareth: Innovation Day

We held an Innovation Day last year for Companies House staff. As part of the promotional and awareness campaign, we decided to use the ‘get your thinking caps on strapline. As it was my job to come up with the visual materials, I decided to make my own ‘thinking cap for use in the images and promotion of the event.

I used a mixing bowl, Christmas lights and bronze spray paint to make the cap. Once it was ready, we organised a photoshoot where I wore the cap in various poses and with different expressions. These photographs were then photoshopped and used alongside famous innovation quotes. The images were used on digital screens and posters throughout the building.

A collage of photos of Gareth in his 'thinking cap' and the posters he made for innovation day.

As an added bonus, I wore the cap around the building to promote the event and to drum up enthusiasm.

The campaign attracted a lot of attention with lots of great feedback, and I’ve even had a couple of requests to make more bespoke caps for internal campaigns!

Ethan: people survey

The people survey is an annual survey for civil servants. I led on the design for the 2018 people survey at Companies House, and my job was to create engaging graphics to promote the survey and to encourage people to fill it in.

There were several different phasefor the campaign. These included a ‘coming soon’ animation, the launch, weekly progress updates, and communicating the final results.

I wanted to emphasise the fact that it was the people survey’s 10th birthday, so I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use a birthday cake and fireworks.

An illustration of cakes and fireworks with the message ' The People Survey 10th anniversary'

The designs needed to be eye-catching and easy to digest for use oour digital screens and intranet. Once I’d created the drafts for each stage, I then pitched my ideas to senior leaders along with the reasoning behind my designs.

The campaign was a big success and 92% of colleagues filled in the survey. We had the top engagement score across all civil service departments of our size.


We’re already looking forward to the next year of design opportunities! Follow us on our social channels to keep up to date with our work.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Fotis Grontas posted on

    Excellent work innovating ideas!