In her article On Logophobia, Elizabeth Glickfeld speaks of “logo-bashing” and partly blames “ignorance of the design process” (Glickfeld 2010).
Glickfeld notes that designers have a complex job in giving form to abstract values, concepts and attitudes in a single identity. Furthermore, “a logo designer has perhaps the duration of a glimpse to capture the audience’s attention and to etch that glimpse into their memory” (Glickfeld 2010).
Often a logo must communicate such elements as history, culture and values in a single illustration, all whilst justifying the price-tag attached to the work.
When it comes to branding cities, another challenge facing designers, as explained by Glickfeld, is the risk of “communicational whitewashing”.
In 2008, Belfast City Council unveiled a new logo by Lloyd Northover “as part of a regeneration programme focused around celebrating the city’s industrial history and updating perceptions still locked in its political past” (Bowser 2008). The Council’s website stated that “Its aim is to help market Belfast to international visitors and potential investors, promoting the city as an exciting, vibrant and welcoming place…The time is right for us to build a thriving, vibrant city…we embrace the future to build an even better Belfast”.
However, artist Miriam de Burca, who in her video installation You and Me, showcased footage of gentrification and regeneration, accompanied by a soundtrack of the street violence and sectarian abuse that de Burca recorded from her kitchen window, poses the questions “where do places like north Belfast fit into the model of today’s Northern Ireland?” and “Who are we building this new city for?” (Coll 2008).
Photographer, John Duncan spoke to Bryon Coll of The Irish Times about a deep-rooted sense of loss in the North, made worse by the rapidly-changing urban landscape.”There seems to be a real drive to commodify everything in Northern Ireland for the tourist market. Whenever that happens, communities lose their sense of ownership”, says Duncan. (Coll 2008)
In 2011, São Paulo introduced a new identity designed by Romulo Castillho. In their article, ‘Top 10 City Logos’, Inkbot Design writes “The vibrant logo of São Paulo can be seen as representative of the diversity and variety of cultures in and around the city…(however) it lacks a specific cultural angle, instead of covering the feeling of the city over the people that inhabit it”.
In his article São Paulo Attracts, Armin Via states “The logo is meant to represent both the diversity and variety of people and cultures in São Paulo as well as being a loose depiction of the metropolis with roads and avenues that converge climactically at its center”. He later adds, “It lacks some cultural specificity’ (Vit 2011).
‘A new logo for Belfast’ 2008, Logo Design Love, 3 July, viewed 7 August 2017, <http://www.logodesignlove.com/new-logo-design-belfast-city>.
Bowser, J 2008, ‘Belfast rebrands city logo to shake off old perceptions’, Campaign, 2 July, viewed 7 August 2017, <http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/belfast-rebrands-city-logo-shake-off-old-perceptions/828040>.
Coll, B 2008, ‘A blank canvas for a new North’, The Irish Times, 3 July, viewed 7 August 2017, <https://www.irishtimes.com/news/a-blank-canvas-for-a-new-north-1.942363>.
Glickfeld, E. (2010). On logophobia. Meanjin, 69(3), 26-32. Retrieved from http://onlineres.swin.edu.au.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/522077.pdf
Logo Design 2017, ‘Belfast City’ [image], Top 10 City Logos, Inkbot Design, viewed 7 August 2017, <http://inkbotdesign.com/top-10-city-logos/>.
Logo Design 2017, ‘São Paulo City’ [image], Top 10 City Logos, Inkbot Design, viewed 7 August 2017, <http://inkbotdesign.com/top-10-city-logos/>.
Vit, A 2011, ‘São Paulo Attracts’, Brand New, 2 December, viewed 7 August 2017, <http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/so_paulo_attracts.php>.