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Building the Foundation for Brand Equity in Government

Coforma developed a new branding system to tell the compelling story of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ InnovationX and provide them with a foundation to build their unique brand equity.

A Unique Government Brand Identity

Client Name(s):
US Department of Health and Human Services
Partner Name(s):
Delivery Date:
June 2021

The US Department of Health and Human Services needed to unify their innovation acceleration initiatives' efforts under one cohesive brand identity.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is mandated to “enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.” InnovationX was established to continue this legacy by acting as an umbrella effort that encompasses the advancement of innovation acceleration initiatives through public and private partnerships. As an entity that works across diverse challenges and a broad range of medicine, public health, and social service issues, HHS needed a branding system that would unite and reflect all initiatives under InnovationX, providing a foundation for building their brand equity.

I want us to be enough of a blank slate and an open canvas that new leadership can see their own priorities advanced through how we frame ourselves.
Dr. Kristen HoneySenior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health and Executive Director of Data OperationsUS Department of Health and Human Services

Uncovering the InnovationX Story

We used a human-centered design and research approach to build a brand identity prism and create a distinctive, cohesive branding system that unified existing and new initiatives.

With the name InnovationX being used across a variety of HHS’ partner industries and organizations, Coforma’s goal was to unearth the story of InnovationX and its unique attributes inherent to its purpose and overarching vision. Brand development included discovery engagement with HHS stakeholders, name exploration, and legal research to ensure availability of the desired brand name.

Image of Mural boards with sticky notes for collaboration.

We then leveraged a brand identity prism to align key brand traits and gain a nuanced understanding from different perspectives. In support of this, the team conducted remote interviews, workshops, and surveys with staff members and stakeholders. This gave us a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of InnovationX, the mission, identity, and hopes for the branding project. The resulting branding system, assets, tagline, mission statement, style guidelines, and discovery package with recommendations provided HHS with the foundation to differentiate InnovationX. The insights surfaced during our research will help inform future decisions to scale and grow their brand equity.

A colorful branded presentation template is shown in a 30 degree angled grid pattern.
Cyrus Sethna
InnovationX needed a visual identity that reflected our commitment to working iteratively, trying new things, and seeking out-of-the-box solutions to outsized problems. We had to highlight that we’re an asset to the Department and also to the American people— who we wanted to see us as a part of HHS that delivers results to some of our country’s most pressing health and human services issues. Working with Coforma resulted in a credible, approachable identity with which stakeholders, partners, and the public could engage.
Cyrus SethnaFormer HHS Director of CommunicationsOCTO

Brand Story and Alignment

Coforma saw an opportunity to empower the InnovationX team and its partners by equipping them with the tools necessary to tell the brand’s story. We created a brand identity prism, brand moodboard, logo system, style guide, and templates with consistent, distinctive language. We leveraged the brand components in designing a new mission statement and description for InnovationX. These tools anchor the brand within HHS, while projecting an identity that's adaptable, inclusive, accessible—and most importantly, a partner for all.

A green brand prism template is shown that is used to visually identify the core values and guiding principles for InnovationX.

A brand prism template used to visually identify the core values and guiding principles for InnovationX.

Brand Identity Prism

Before InnovationX’s mission statement was crafted, we created a brand identity prism to visually identify the brand’s core characteristics. Attributes from the brand prism were translated into major themes and used to design the look, feel, and voice of the brand. The team will also be able to reference the brand prism in the future to center new brand communications, designs, and marketing.

Colorful moodboards that were created to visually organize inspiration and explore brand intentions are shown in a 30-degree angled grid.

Moodboards help to visually organize inspiration and explore brand intentions.

Brand Moodboard

To visually express and encompass the brand’s look and feel, we prepared moodboards. We listened to stakeholders during discovery sessions and workshops to generate inspired, dynamic visuals that reflected what we heard.

A green and white mission statement from the brand guide is shown.

A mission statement clarifies an organization's aspirations and defines where it’s headed in the future.

Mission Statement

To tell the brand’s story, we crafted a mission statement that embodied both the HHS mandate and InnovationX’s unique purpose. The new mission statement laid the groundwork for aligning future innovation and acceleration initiatives and/or strategies under the brand umbrella.

Logo variations are shown in a range of brand colors (tones of purple and gray) and forms (expanded and shortened).

Each variation of the logo has a range of colors so that it can be used in many different ways.

Logo System

Building brand equity requires a well-defined logo to differentiate and define a brand with target audiences. With this in mind, we created a new logo system with input and insights from stakeholders. This included a primary logomark and secondary template for building an adaptable logo system that can support program growth over time. Considerations for this deliverable include the uniqueness of the mark, memorability, brand- and mission-fit, scalability for different locations/needs, and more.

A cohesive and consistent range of design elements are shown on a 30-degree angled grid from the brand guide.

Use of a cohesive and consistent range of design elements and language maintains brand identity, while allowing for growth and alignment with partners.

Style Guide

We created a style guide to help InnovationX build its brand identity and maintain a consistent, recognizable voice and brand in its marketing and communications. This simple and easy-to-use guide integrates our discovery findings and insights with the logo, colors, and type needed to launch the new brand. We delivered a visual style guide that detailed how to use the branding system collaboratively across functions and organizational levels.

A massive grid showing an extensive brand slide template system is shown.

A branded presentation template that can be easily populated by the team and helps to tell the brand's story and market opportunity to potential partners.

Slide Template

We crafted presentation templates designed to seamlessly extend the brand with low resource requirements. Each slide is simple, modern, flexible, and visually cohesive with the overarching branding system.

Project Team

  • MonicaMonica BassiProject Manager
  • ArdenArden KlemmerLead Designer
  • AngelaAngela HopkinsContent Strategist
  • CeciliaCecilia RamirezCopywriter
  • KateKate MurphyDesigner
  • MaddyMaddy HammelDesigner
  • TyraTyra BlewLegal Researcher


  • Slack

  • Gmail

  • Google Drive and Forms

  • Figma

  • Mural

  • Accessibility tools

  • USPTO database

  • Google search

  • State-level trade-databases

  • Servicemark databases

  • SEMrush

  • Design hangout


  • Industry-standard Scrum framework for agile delivery

  • Co-creation with partners

  • One-on-one user interviews (remote)

  • Plain language