Metropolitan Police Service

Directorate Identity

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Project notes

Project type

An internal departmental branding project for the Directorate of Legal Services at the MPS.


To improve the recognition factor for the DLS. to this end they required the design of a distinctive departmental logo that could be applied across the full range of their services. It would initially be employed on letterheadings, business cards and a redesign of their directorate intranet site.


Apart from the sheer length of the name, one of the big challenges was accepting that the client had no intention of actually getting their new identity design professionally printed. They were content to simply embed a logo into their Microsoft Word templates and allow their inkjet printers to take care of the rest. It was only for internal use, they said, so what did it matter?

Of course the DLS offices were hardly operating a colour-managed workflow, and so this meant that unless the logo design was solid black on white, any hope of consistency would be lost — every desktop printer in the office would print the colours of the logo slightly differently.

What to do?


After some discussion, the client agreed that it would be necessary to at least print the business cards externally. Okay, that was one hurdle down. But business cards were only one tiny part of the overall picture, so the problem hadn’t gone away.

This unavoidable fact had a major bearing on how the logo was eventually designed. If it needed, ideally, to be a one-colour logo then so be it. But it needed a twist to lift it out of the everyday. More on that later.

The logo itself evolved from the idea of an official stamp or seal, the sort that you might press into hot wax on the back of an envelope in a Dickens story. This idea tied in with the traditional notion of the lawyer as an official, overseeing and sanctioning the important ceremonies of life. We wanted to retain that feeling of heritage, of sober surroundings and green leather-topped desks — even if they are no longer the reality.

And so the circular DLS logo was created, echoing wax seals and perhaps the indentation of the judge’s gavel. It was a solid one-colour mark, no grey tone or colour, and was designed to be used either black on white, or as a white image reversed out of a slate-grey block. This choice of the dark grey background was made because it was judged to have a reasonable chance of looking the same across a range of uncallibrated desktop printers.

There was another reason for designing the logo the way we did, however, and it comes back to the issue of normalising the logo across letters and memos and all the other internal paperwork that might have to bear the DLS mark. Rather than having a rubbishy inkjet print of the logo on every sheet, we reasoned, why not dispense with the printing of it entirely?

And so we had made a set of hand embossing stamps, enough to have a few in each of the DLS offices. Letters, memos and whatever could be printed out with no logo on at all… and then, with one quick squeeze of the stamp (akin to using a stapler) the logo would be embossed into the corner of the page, right there in the paper itself. No ink, no colour inconsistencies, and although every logo would inevitably be placed slightly differently to every other logo, that would become part of the charm rather than simply an ugly product of printer deficiencies. Plus, it followed on beautifully from the original vision behind the logo — that of the stamp or the seal of officialdom.

And it brought a tiny bit of craft back into a digital world.



Click an image to open a larger version in its own window.


Directorate of Legal Services logo The logo was designed to be as flexible as possible and to invoke the idea of a wax seal, or perhaps the imprint left by a gavel.

It was clean enough to work well embossed out of good quality stationery paper.

Other documents

Business card Page from departmental guidance sheet The business card was designed to be printed as two colours — dark slate grey and the official MPS blue — to keep client costs down. This gives a good example of the logo being used reversed out of a solid colour.

Shark Attack also designed a series of internal departmental guide books for the Directorate to help them promote their service to their fellow officers. These made dramatic use of white space and, in another cost-saving exercise, employed the same stock images used in our design for the DLS intranet site.

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