Knowledge Matters blog

Behind the scenes at the British Library

23 May 2022

What’s in a name? Update on the Single Digital Presence project

Workshop 1Back in February, we updated on progress to develop a groundbreaking new digital platform for public libraries.

Since then we’ve been working with creative agency, FCB Inferno, to develop a name and identity for the platform. This work started in January with discussions with colleagues from across the sector, from the National Library of Scotland and Manchester Libraries to the Reading Agency and Libraries Connected.

We also conducted a YouGov survey with 2,000 people to develop our understanding of the use and perceptions of local libraries. Building upon all of our earlier research, this work helped FCB Inferno to understand in more depth the need and potential for the project, which will support local libraries in sharing content online and increase awareness of everything they have to offer.

Finding our purpose

This process helped establish a set of core values for what the new brand needs to convey. The many things that people can do at their local library. The creativity and innovation within libraries today. The role of libraries as a lifeline for anyone in need, from providing reading material in person and online to helping tackle loneliness and welcome refugees. And the fact that increasingly libraries are not only places where stories are kept but also spaces where you can create your own.

Everything we learnt we then distilled into one clear purpose: to empower every journey of discovery. Whether that’s tracking down your family history, researching your business idea or just finding a local reading group to join each week.

Developing an identity

In April work began to look at how we could bring this new brand to life, visually and verbally.  This kicked off with a collaborative workshop, with colleagues from both the Library and the Living Knowledge Network, where we explored the power of design language.

The workshop was a great opportunity for us to discuss how names and symbols help to create meaning for brands. We used the session to review some of the best brands delivering similar services to see how they’d developed their identity to capture their own values and purpose. To get an understanding of how and why brands have used different approaches, we studied a full spectrum of sectors from international archives and culture spaces to information platforms and community welfare services and charities.

Design workshop 1

In particular we took a revealing look at the importance of each element of these brands including colour and typography, and of course the all-important logo itself. Examining a number of relevant and well-known organisations, from Wikipedia to Spotify, we reflected on the decisions made behind everything from names and logos to their use of language and photography. This helped us to understand what brands are doing well, but also not so well, and to learn from their development journeys.


It was an eye-opening session that highlighted the thinking that goes into designing brands and how seemingly small details make a big difference. The key findings from the workshop are now being taken forward to help us develop the overall design direction for the new brand, which we’ll be sharing with colleagues from across the sector in the coming months.

Becca Mytton

Single Digital Presence Project Officer