Northamptonshire County Council

CDS design and print – controls content, brand and costs

CDS supplies print service to Northamptonshire County Council

Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) needed a single supplier to streamline their design and print arrangements to make the most of their buying power and achieve value for money, in the face of growing financial pressures.

CDS provided a turn-key design and print service which enabled them to produce designs consistent with their corporate brand, market testing for all printed products to deliver best value and improved purchasing, reporting and invoicing procedures.

A key benefit of the new arrangement is the provision of a CDS designer based within the Council’s Marketing and Communications Team, enabling early involvement at the conceptual stage.

The designer uses knowledge and experience of print and online communications to advise on available options to make savings or avoid incurring unnecessary costs.

The requirement

NCC reviewed their design arrangements and established that they were using around 40 agencies, incurring a wide range of fees and creating real challenges to maintaining a consistent brand.

They also identified that their print buying practices were fragmented and did not make the most of the Council’s buying power or demonstrate value for money.

The Council needed a single supplier capable of providing the complete end-to-end process covering:

  • advice and consultancy
  • full design service – including conceptual, graphics and artwork
  • provision of a wide range of print services covering quick turnaround for Legal and Democratic departments through to corporate publications.

The Council was looking for a supplier who could provide efficient online systems to work seamlessly with staff and elected members, their Marketing & Communications Team, Procurement and Finance.

The solution

CDS won the contract and quickly implemented the service in under two months providing staff based within NCC’s Marketing and Communications Team.

Initially, we undertook a joint internal marketing campaign across council offices and via the council intranet, and created an interactive PDF – to publicise the new arrangement.

The on-site designer was in place to get involved in projects from the conceptual stage. This allows CDS to fully understanding the council’s communication goals, audience and lifecycle so we can provide expert advice and consultancy on producing print and online communications that are fit for purpose.

The CDS solution protects the council’s brand, ensuring the correct use of its graphic devices, friendly modern font, strong bands of colour and powerful images of ‘real people.’

This enabled the Council to make maximum use of their corporate identity, including branding support for income generation activities.

Another key benefit to the Council is our input into strategic campaigns, such as ‘fostering and adoption’, which make a significant difference to people’s lives.

We have also undertaken publication audits identifying opportunities to streamline communications and avoid duplication. All digital artwork produced is now stored in a central online repository, CDS Digital, providing secure access for council staff.


NCCSince CDS implemented this service, the Council has been able to improve brand control, prevent unauthorised design and print and accurately record spending. They report savings across all publications. Customer satisfaction is consistently recorded as either excellent (60%) or good (40%).

For example:

Our advice and consultancy approach resulted in the council redesigning school meals ordering packs to a leaflet format, saving £9,546 pa (17%) on print, fulfilment and postage costs.

The pack is distributed eight times a year and is distributed to 23,500 families. Each pack contained a standard letter, a menu, weekly order forms and return envelopes. CDS challenged the model and recommended a single folded leaflet solution encompassing all the elements – reducing print costs and offering significant savings on collation and postage.


  • Advice and consultancy
  • Conceptual and graphic design
  • Artwork
  • Brand protection
  • Print Portal
  • CDS Digital (Digital Asset Management)
  • Reprographics
  • Print Management

Download the Northamptonshire County Council case study

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Northamptonshire County Council chose CDS because they demonstrated that they could offer the Council best value for our design and print requirements.

David Stubbs, Marketing Manager

Northamptonshire County Council