TENS of thousands of pounds of public money was spent on creating a new name for Historic Scotland, the National can reveal.

Historic Scotland, now known as Historic Environment Scotland, gave a top Edinburgh creative agency £55,000 of taxpayers’ cash to come up with the new brand, an incredible £5,000 per extra letter. An extra £34,000 has been outlined for changes to logos on vans and signs.

The government agency, which has responsibility for a number of Scotland’s castles, historic sites and monuments, changed its name after new legislation meant it effectively ceased to exist. The Historic Environment Scotland Act saw Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments Scotland merged to create the new organisation which came into being on October 1.

According to figures obtained by The National, the agency had £99,000 to spend on the “organisational identity contract”. However, Edinburgh’s Leith Agency won out after a “two-stage process”.

The contract with the Leith Agency was, Historic Environment Scotland say, let to the value of £55,000.

At a meeting in late September, months after the legislation had passed, the Leith Agency came back with suggestions for a new name for the new agency.

It was members of the Board who opted for Historic Environment Scotland, after the name of the act that created the new body.

Since that Board meeting in September, the Leith Agency has been to the body’s meetings in October, November and December as board members discussed potential branding and straplines. According to the board minutes those discussions have been “lively”.

The body said it had also outlined estimates of £31,400 plus VAT for changing the livery on their vans and signs on administrative buildings.

Although it is a new agency, the Historic Scotland name will still exist as a “sub-brand” that will “nest within HES as the parent brand”.

Eben Wilson from Taxpayers’ Alliance Scotland said it was typical example of “defocusing”, where senior members of an organisation spend time worrying about the “colour of a logo” rather than running the business.

Wilson said: “Shuffling a brand identity within government always seems to cost a fortune. You have to wonder if any of our taxes were worth spending on this exercise.

“These costs, no doubt, do not reflect the enormous amount of management and meeting costs that were incurred in making the changes. That’s what always worries me.”

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said: “Following a procurement process, the Leith Agency was appointed to undertake a branding exercise to the value of £55,000. The new brand identity will now be rolled out across 2016 for the likes of our offices and livery on company vehicles etc.

“However, to maximise best use of budget, the HES Board has also decided to maintain a number of existing sub-brands, including the use of the Historic Scotland name at our properties in care such as Edinburgh Castle. As such, there’s no current plans to replace signage, uniforms of any other materials or paraphernalia associated with this part of the organisation.”

The creation of HES was one of the biggest shake-ups in the governance in Scotland’s heritage for decades.

Politicians who passed the act felt there was some logic in Historic Scotland, whose sites included Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Iona Abbey, Skara Brae in Orkney, Linlithgow Palace and Whithorn Priory, joining forces with the Royal Commission.

The commission was set up in 1908 to record and advise on thousands of historic places as well as producing hundreds of books and reports.

In its final report the commission stated: “Our work has always been driven by an idea – in its simplest form, that the built and historic environment of Scotland must be recorded and researched to ensure that its exceptional cultural value is understood and protected by current and future generations.”

When rebranding goes wrong

HISTORIC Environment Scotland’s £55,000 is a tenth of the cash spent in 2001 by the Post Office after it was privatised by the Labour Government. Bosses there decided to mark the move from state to private control with a complete rebrand. £550,000 was given to a London ad agency. The Post Office was dead and Consignia was born.

The name, the agency said, conveyed “trustworthiness.” The public hated it. Other designers hated it. The new body has effectively created a weird fake Latin word to replace one of the most iconic names and brands in the world.

Just a year later it changed its name back to Royal Mail.

Royal Bank of Scotland has had a few rebrands. First it was RBS, then there was that business with Sir Fred Goodwin and the banking crash. Recently the bank said it would be rebranding from RBS to the easier-on-the-eye rbs.

Just two months ago the Scotland Office became the UK Government in Scotland on Facebook, although that doesn’t seem to have caught on anywhere apart from the Scotland Office’s Facebook.

The National View: £55,000 is a huge price to pay to add one word to Historic Scotland