Great article Paul – nicely researched. I heartily agree there should be more consistency across the UK Government ‘brand’. Partly because some of the ministries’ identities are terrible vis. Department for Transport, but also because we the public should be able to tell at a glance when we’re dealing with a Government department.
On that basis I’m also agreed that a new typeface should be designed. Gill Sans would probably be appropriate but its distribution, and use by the BBC, is too prevalent. That said I also think that the German and Dutch governments have taken their branding too far – I do believe that the various ministries should have different visual identies, even if it’s just differing colour schemes as in Northern Ireland.
As alternative to the complicated coat of arms, another device used by the UK Government has been the crowned portcullis, although I think that may refer specifically to the House of Commons.