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New Belfast logo and the typical tabloid response

September 20, 2017

The new Belfast logo, designed by local firm McCadden, was a recent topic on a radio phone-in after “a disgruntled council worker” shared a low-res version of the mark (below).

Belfast logo 2017

Unsurprisingly, public responses were typical of a logo presented in isolation, and the Belfast Telegraph ran an equally typical tabloid-styled response.

Was new Belfast logo worth two-year wait and up to £50k of ratepayers’ cash?

Followed by this on the same day…

New Belfast logo: our graphic designer came up with these (for free) on his tea break. I’m not so sure of their “edgy and eclectic” nature (below).

Belfast logo alternatives

A few days later, McCadden’s managing director Glenn Stewart said it was disappointing that a single version of the logo was put into the public domain before a more informative launch could take place. Something I can certainly empathise with.

Glenn said his firm are billing around £45,000, and the fee includes web design, brand guidelines, and a continuing advisory role over the application of the identity — aspects that are often (conveniently) overlooked in media stories about new logos.

“I can genuinely tell you that in terms of how we would bill ourselves out, we have gone well over budget. We can’t charge for all the time we have spent on it.

“It’s not a big money spinner for us, but we are just so proud to be doing it. In our business it doesn’t get much better than branding your own city.”
— Glenn Stewart, McCadden

The Belfast “starburst” takes its shape from how the city appears on satellite images, even if some angles are a bit of a land-grab (and the Titanic Quarter has been cut from the top-right in reference to the city origins when that area was wetland).

Belfast logo 2017

The “logo as window” approach often goes down well with clients, letting the inside space relate to different promotional messages.

Belfast logo 2017

Variety of colour makes sense, too, so the mark can adopt the palettes of other bodies or organisations that it’ll sit alongside.

Belfast logo 2017

There are secondary versions with “Belfast” shown in Irish and Ulster Scots.

Belfast’s outgoing logo, designed in 2008 by Lloyd Northover, was a heart-shaped B idea that’s similar to a number of UK-based entities, so it made sense to look for something more original.

Belfast logo Lloyd Northover

City branding will never escape criticism as it’s generally paid for with the public purse, but the new design is more own-able and distinctive than the heart, and the application should be more interesting, too. I hope we don’t see too much of the logo being tacked onto pre-existing designs.

Belfast logo

Well done to the team at McCadden, both on winning the project, and on achieving enough consensus among council members to get the design passed. No mean feat.

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