Ah, sound identity, communicators know it, it is essential for memorization. Who doesn't remember the famous "tadadada", the McDonald's sign or the 4 emblematic notes of the SNCF group's communications?
And did you know that? Recently, government communications have taken on a whole new sound signature. To find out more, the team We Are COM went to interview Michael Nathan, Director of the Government Information Service – SIG. A look back at an inspiring brand architecture transformation.
Hello Michaël, to begin with, we would like to know your definition of public communication.
Michael Nathan : This is a vast debate. The terms “communication” and “public” are both quite generic and very precise. I would say that the public communication it is the explanation and promotion of public policies, in order to make them understandable, intelligible and accessible to all.
Indeed, this is where the uniqueness of public communication lies: to serve the general interest, it must reach all citizens.
The government has recently adopted a new sound identity. What is behind this change of identity? Is this part of a larger strategic plan over several years?
The new sound identity expands on the work carried out on the State brand, it will ultimately signify all of the State's communications, it is only a stone brought to a larger building, our project of transformation and modernization of communication which we have been pursuing since 2019.
The Yellow Vest crisis and the Great National Debate highlighted citizens' lack of understanding of the missions and actions of the State. To compensate for the lack of identification and reattribution, we began working on brand architecture to exploit the network of the State in the service of the visibility of its action; with the following mantra: “ wherever the State is present, acts, finances, its presence must be clearly identified. ».
Firstly, we updated our graphical charter and modernized our logo for more digital adaptability. From now on, our visual identity is common to all State actors : ministries, state operators and all decentralized services (prefectures, embassies).
The sound signature is only a stone brought to a larger building, our project of transformation and modernization of communication
Secondly (2021) we harmonized the State-Citizen digital interface with a single design system applicable to the entire “web of State”. This tool allows citizens to have graphic consistency and a better experience across all State sites. The Design System aims to improve the digital State/citizen relationship by becoming a benchmark for quality and trust while allowing significant savings on the communication budgets of different users. To facilitate its adoption by all these institutions, we have made available to them a library of digital components that can be used on all websites, this is an undeniable factor in accelerating the transformation of interfaces. digital of State.
The sound signature completes this transformation by adding to the visual and digital coding previously developed and thus reinforces the singularity, identification and memorization of State communication. This sound identity is a reinterpretation of the Marseillaise, contemporary, but timeless, while remaining faithful and humble.
What does the name “FR.AIR” mean? What were your sources of inspiration for the development of these few notes?
If our reinterpretation resumes the highlights of the Marseillaise, it is above all because this historical air qualifies and characterizes us.
The name of this sound identity is a play on words combining the term “air”, since it is inspired by the emblematic national anthem known to all and “.fr”, the digital extension of the country, which anchors the piece in a more modern environment.
Can you tell us more about this harmonization approach, how do you deploy this system among the different and numerous state institutions?
In the sphere of the State, the actors are extremely numerous. This is a great strength but can also be a weakness in certain cases. Our messages have the advantage of being able to be carried by a multitude of voices, but if they are not harmonized there is a risk that they will be diluted with respect to the perception by the target.
Also, our tools were designed to be facilitators, allow better appropriation of the message by the different actors and therefore provide better elements of understanding to citizens. Our design system, for example, saves time and money for communicators who draw on it, while guaranteeing the harmonization and consistency of our websites for users.
Our tools have been designed to be facilitators, allowing better appropriation of the message by the different actors and therefore providing better elements of understanding to citizens.
We are also in charge of various interministerial markets, in particular that of making government communication accessible, which has been one of our missions since 2021. In order to make communication accessible to everyone, particularly people with disabilities – whether physical or cognitive, we have set up a market in which all ministries have a right of drawing to translate speeches into French sign language (LSF), transcribe communications in FALC – Easy to read and understand, do velotyping and subtitling etc.
Government messages are numerous. But in the era ofinfobesity, how do you communicate in an impactful way, without over-soliciting audiences? How to ensure the identification of the institutional issuer?
In the era of overexposure, the risk is obviously saturation. More and more, the public insurance informs itself, autonomously. Our observation? Our messages are more likely to not reach the targets than to reach them. Information struggles to overcome all the obstacles that exist between the transmitter and the receiver. Our role as communicators consists of facilitating this delivery.
Starting from this conjectural handicap of the current environment, the SIG has worked for more than 3 years to rethink government communication by favoring an “integrated” approach to communication systems. On the one hand, by harmonizing the identity of all our actors. On the other hand, by conducting an in-depth analysis of our audiences. Who are they ? Where are they located? What are they looking for?
Information struggles to overcome all the obstacles that exist between the transmitter and the receiver. Our role as communicator consists of facilitating this delivery
In three years, the service has moved away from an essentially informative and normative role to become part of a logic of management, co-construction, and harmonization to maximize the readability of the implementation of public policies and strengthen the perception of state action
To do this, we have, among other things, adopted a holistic approach in terms of media distribution (on and offline) with the main objective of performance and efficiency.
It must be remembered that le in digital is not an end in itself but simply a means of reaching targets and informing them. It is necessary to understand this environment and capitalize on approaches to “ test and learn » However, a granular network – extremely ramified – like that of the State is extremely impactful, particularly because of its proximity dimension. These are our localized incarnations (prefectures, France Services, etc.) which reach the targets as closely as possible, in their daily lives. In other words, our national communication is also based on the local.
And regarding the surge of fake news, how do you secure your communications? How to protect your brand identity in all its components? Do you have any best practices to share with us?
La ftake news is a very complicated phenomenon to manage, the consequences of which at the state level can be very dangerous, or even impact the security of the country.
As a communications service, we are not in charge of this subject, it is the Viginum service, which depends on the SGDSN – General Secretariat for the Defense of National Security – which was created and mandated to fight against the phenomenon
On our side, how do we participate in this struggle? We ensure that all institutional information that circulates is proven and is located in clearly identifiable environments. We adopt a strategy of anticipation to protect ourselves from typosquatting, identity theft via fake URLs. Finally, we carry out diligent and permanent monitoring of all these manipulation themes. The fight against fake news is a long-term task, since their diffusion capacities are exponential.
In your opinion, what will public communication look like in ten years?
It seems to me that for several years now, public communication has begun an important shift. Historically, this sector was perceived as the somewhat “weaker” side of communication, far behind communication aimed at the general public (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B). Today, and more and more, public communication is essential and gaining momentum, it is a response to the quest for meaning expressed by citizens to the extent that it resonates with the general interest and the major principles which govern the State-citizen pact.
The general interest has become one of the main concerns of organizations and companies, which seek to rework their reason for being. Ours is already well established and known to everyone.
The general interest has become one of the main concerns of organizations and companies, which seek to rework their reason for being
This is a strength on which we must capitalize, with serious and regular analysis of performance. Because who says more performance, says more individual impact and therefore more sobriety overall. Again, the test and learn is and will remain essential.
artificial intelligence will change our jobs. Communicators must understand these new technologies and draw the virtues of this revolution. And besides, in the near future, why not use AI to combat fake news ?
Finally, do you have any final advice to give to communicators who read us and who are guarantors of brand identity?
The subjects of identity are never acquired. SO, let's stay mobilized over time. Let us also remain mobilized among communicators. We belong to the same big family, we use the same techniques and use the same tools. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the communicators who regularly ask us about our good practices in public communication.
[Indiscretion] 3 things to know about Michaël Nathan
· His mantra? « Expectation is the new currency » According to him, the current environment is fundamentally based on user experience, the expectations of audiences in this area have become the real currency.
· Her favorite communication campaign? Michaël, a true “pubivore”, was particularly struck by the series of ultra-creative Volkswagen advertisements. Remember, these spots which touched the collective unconscious, such as this little boy who thought he was Darth Vader…
· His passions ? There are many of them, but Michaël is above all a big fan of rugby. A sport of values and teamwork, whose virtues can easily be combined with professional life.