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, unsurprisingly, it was disappointing that a single version of the logo was put into the public domain before a more informative launch could take place.

The design firm are billing around £45,000, with the fee including web work, brand guidelines, and a continuing advisory role over identity application — aspects that are often (conveniently) overlooked in media reports on new logos.

McCadden’s Glenn Stewart said, “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.”

The Belfast “starburst” takes its shape from how the city appears on satellite images, although 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

And there’s the “logo as window” approach that often helps to persuade clients (in the clip below).

Video via Slugger O’Toole.

Variety of colour makes sense, so it can adopt the palettes of other organisations the mark will sit alongside.

Belfast logo 2017

And secondary versions with “Belfast” shown in Irish and Ulster Scots were created.

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 I can understand the decision to set a new brief.

Belfast logo Lloyd Northover

City branding will never escape criticism as it’s generally paid for with the public purse, but while it’ll divide opinion, the new design’s certainly more distinctive than the heart, and reportedly much less expensive.

Belfast logo 2017

I’m sure it was no mean feat for McCadden to achieve enough consensus among council members, especially considering what happened before the previous Belfast logo was released.


The Tele’s graphic designer came up with great demonstrations of why real design costs money.

It’s a good job, and doesn’t put one at all in mind of an explosion. Which is good, because why would anyone associate Belfast with explosions? Incurable alcoholics, decimated industries, and sunken ships which became watchwords for grand failure are much less objectionable. (And bread rolls?)

As an occasional and average logo designer I understand the reactions.
The symbol is very awkward. I’m not sure I understand how they derived it from the outlines of the city. It seems arbitrary.
The word Belfast is not fully legible (how about that lower negative space in the B?) and the implementation is boilerplate.
Did it really take two years to develop that?
How many ideas were scrapped?
How slow is bureaucracy really?

Anyway I’ve seen much much worse.
In my homeland Italy they spend more money for insultingly bad logos like this one:

I can imagine it being a tough sell, Andrea, with McCadden working well over budget if that is how long it took. A behind-the-scenes would be interesting.

That Lombardia logo’s a corker.

Omg, we laughed for a month because of that Lombardia “logo.” It’s inconceivable. But I don’t think someone paid for it. I guess an intern or a secretary or whoever did it, to save money.

In Italy that’s the real issue: important categories of clients have lost confidence in design (with our history of design??). Often politicians and public administrations make some non-designers do the job for two cents, without searching for a design consultancy, while thinking that graphic design is just a funny computer-easy-artistic-hobby.

If I think we had Albe Steiner :(

(XIV Triennale di Milano)

I liked it for its flexibility as a ‘container’ for imagery, but in the orange grad version now all I can see is a fiery explosion. Not an association the city would desire to invoke. Agree, that tiny slice out of the B is unfortunate and could easily be avoided.

I live in Belfast (and work here as a designer) and I have to say that I’m really disappointed with the new logo – the shape is awkward, scrappy and cheap looking; it looks like sth broken and random.

Well, at least someone really created an outline, even if it seems far fetched. Back in my home country they spent millions of bucks on a country rebrand based on a leaf taken from stockphotos with Romania written under it. $11 bucks well spent by the designer. :D

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