At the heart (pun!) of every city or country branding effort is a zealous desire to portray the destination as world-class and home to the greatest people on earth — and, sometimes, like New York or Slovenia, there is nothing sweeter to communicate this than with a heart. Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland, unveiled a new identity to help promote tourism and enhance the perception of a city that has experienced its share of political, cultural and religious troubles from the 1970s to the 1990s, and has only recently experienced positive growth and perception. And what better way to grow than by opening your heart.
Designed by London-based Lloyd Northover, the new identity revolves around a heart that nicely takes the shape of a B, with the city name set at a vertical angle in a custom-made typeface called “Moment”. Even though the typeface looks plenty like House Industries’ Chalet (the 1980 style), having a proprietary typeface that partners and vendors can freely download (go get your copy now!) is probably much more feasible and economical than forcing everyone to license a retail typeface. The B/heart icon is interesting, but it seems to do little to differentiate Belfast from any number of other cities or countries whose name starts with a B that could also adopt the exact same idea, from Brussels to Brazil (trust me, it would work for Brazil. Ahem.). Nonetheless, as a way of avoiding a logo with a local landmark this succeeds well. The typeface is pretty generic and has a retro-ish feel that I don’t think helps establish Belfast as a forward-looking city. (Interesting that there is this new trend of Bauhaus-inspired typography being used to communicate “contemporary,” see Euronews).
The new identity also comes with a number of tag lines, stemming from the main one, “Be Part of It,” that can be used freely in all sorts of communications from the Belfast City Council and Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau. And it also comes in a variety of colors for versatility. The final result although not terribly exciting is lively and energetic, and as much as I am not convinced by the relevance of the heart to Belfast I can certainly appreciate that they got to it first and can own the idea of the B/heart for a city or country.