Although formed in 1909, the first known instance of the club having an official badge was in 1923, following the take-over which led to Dundee Hibs becoming a limited company for the first time - and changing the official colours from green and white to black and white. The badge was a loose redesign of the City of Dundee's Coat of Arms, and was only worn on the shirts for few months before the club officially changed their name to Dundee United.
In their first season as Dundee United, the players wore a new badge on their jerseys - a shield with the club's initials inside. That initial attempt to foster a club identity makes it all the more surprising that there is no evidence of a United jersey again carrying a badge for more than 30 years. It should be noted, however, that very few Scottish clubs during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s did so.
This official club crest made its first appearance on the front page of the match programme in 1956, and remained as the only image on the cover for eleven years. Although it never quite made the team's jerseys in its full design, the crest was used for years on official documents and club blazers. It was replaced for a while from 1969 to 1983 by a more contemporary circular design, but reappeared in 1983 and remained the clubs official crest until the were forced to change the design in 1993.
This colour version of the Official Club Crest can be seen on many official documents and photographs of the time, with the black and white version appearing in the programme - possibly to keep the printing costs down. Disappearing for a while in the 1970s and early 1980s, it reappeared in 1983, and this colour version could be seen on programme covers and official club attire from 1987 to 1993 - when the club were forced to change the design.
In 1958, a new strip was introduced - all-white, with two black bands - which incorporated a badge on the shirt for the first time since the 1920s. It is not clear why the official club crest, which had been featured on the match programme since 1956, did not appear on the jersey - it is possible that this was just a cheaper option. This new badge simply involved the placing of 'DUFC' within the shape of a shield, but it endured for ten years until the adoption of tangerine as the official club colours. United were one of only a small number of Scottish Clubs who wore a badge on the jerseys throughout that decade.
A circular badge appeared for the first time in 1969. The introduction of a more modern choice of club colours in tangerine and black, required a contemporary badge to accompany the new kit. Featuring a 1970s version of the lion rampant, the circular badge was worn on the home kit for three seasons, until it was superseded by variations of 'DUFC', but it did remain on the official club programme until 1983.
From 1973, the contemporary club crest was replaced by a diagonal 'DUFC' motif on the teams jerseys, with the 1970s style lion rampant badge remaining on the match programmes. Not constituting a badge as such, this was very much the trend in Scotland throughout the period, with official badges being replaced with club initials. This diagonal design ran through until 1983, although was replaced briefly with a straightforward DUFC logo in 1977. Interestingly, throughout these ten years, the original 1956 Lion Rampant design still appeared in sticker books and football cards.
When United became the first Scottish club to sign up with German kit manufacturers Adidas in 1977, a new badge appeared on the stylish shirts. After four seasons of the diagonal DUFC motif, a new simpler composition appeared, with a basic font and the letters laid horizontally. It is not clear if this was done on purpose or possibly a result of a breakdown in communication with the new manufacturers. The 1978-79 season saw the return of the diagonal motif, but with the Adidas designed kit carrying on until 1983, the jerseys that included this badge from 1977 made a rare appearance every now and again.
In 1983, following the clubs success in winning the Scottish Premier Division championship, the old 1956 lion rampant within the shield crest was brought back - although a slightly modified design was used for the teams kit, with the shield, lion, and font all slightly changed. This badge remained on the shirts until 1993, when the club was forced to make a change due to a complaint from The Procurator Fiscal to the Court of the Lord Lyon, which regulates heraldry in Scotland. The choice was to pay a hefty fee to keep the old shield/rampant lion combination, or create a new badge.
1993 saw the club introduce a modern corporate image for the first time, and having been forced to abandon the years old shield/lion rampant badge due to a heraldry in Scotland ruling, a new club logo was designed. This new circular form was used both as the official club crest as well as the jersey badge. Initially, Arabs were not exactly united in their enthusiasm for it, but within a year the club had won the Scottish Cup for the first time, according the new badge the status of a talisman.
In 2009, to celebrate the clubs centenary year, the current badge was given a slight redesign to commemorate the clubs roots. Included with the text 1909-2009 and Centenary, the badge was given a green trim as a nod and a wink to the clubs former identity as Dundee Hibernian. Solely for the 2009-10 campaign, the badge's single venture ended with the 2010 Scottish Cup success.