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July 20, 2008

Northern Irish capital hopes rebrand will help boost business tourism

Belfast City Council recently unveiled a new brand identity for the city, the result of the biggest branding consultation exercise ever undertaken for the city.

The rebrand has been created following a year-long international research programme carried out by brand strategy and creative consultancy Lloyd Northover.

It will be used as a platform by Belfast City Council and the people of Belfast to promote a unified vision of the city as a vibrant and optimistic place in which to live, work, invest and visit. It forms part of a regeneration programme focused around celebrating Belfast's “industrial history and updating perceptions still locked in its political past”, claims the local authority.

Speaking at the launch of the new brand at the Belfast Waterfront Hall, Peter McNaney, chief executive at Belfast City Council, said: "In developing this brand, the goal was to deliver a statement that describes the Belfast of today and also what it aspires to be in future – a strong, vibrant, exciting city with a co-ordinated approach to communication.

"This brand will help us prioritise and identify policies, potential investments, projects and initiatives that will deliver the vision we have for our city."

The brand mark – a capital 'B' with the word 'Belfast' inscribed inside vertically – will be rolled out across the city over the coming months on bus sides, road signs, billboards and landmark buildings.

"Last year, Belfast welcomed 6.9 million visitors, including 1.2 million out-of-state visitors who stayed overnight in the city,” said Tom Hartley, Lord Mayor of Belfast. “The tourism impact on the local economy was estimated to be half a billion pounds last year, and our city was listed as a 'must see destination' by the Lonely Planet Guide."

During the research phase Lloyd Northover, which won the contract following a rigorous tender process, consulted around 3,000 key Belfast city stakeholders from within the business, tourism, hospitality, culture & arts and youth communities. The work involved focus groups, workshops and a web survey to test ideas and concepts and was conducted across England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Europe and the US.

"Belfast has gone through a huge transformation in recent years,” said Jim Northover, the agency’s chairman. “The problem, quite simply, is that brand perceptions are way behind that changed reality. Our brand strategy, developed in conjunction with the people it seeks to represent, aims to change those perceptions and thereby dramatically influencing the future success of the city."

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