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design education and visual communication
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The Norton Experience

Monday, 8 November 2010

Design Agency Carter Wong have announced their reworking of the famous 'Curly N' Norton motorcycle logotype.

According to Norton, the brief was to standardise the logo by taking the best design aspects and features from previous versions to create something contemporary but authentic.

Norton was a key player in the motorcycling world during the pre and post-war periods, and was a great example of British engineering at its zenith. It's best-selling 'Commando' was an influential design that paved the way for the next generation of motorbikes from Japan, the arrival of which ironically signalled Norton's demise during the 1970's and 80's.

Norton Logos:Top - 1913, Middle - 1970's, Bottom - 2010.

The calligraphic flourishes and exaggerated serifs of the earliest logo were reduced during the company's heyday into a more mechanical, European look, but have found their way back in with the new design. You can see it best in the return to a softened ascender on the 't', and the oval offset counterspace inside the 'o'. The overall impression is one of opulent, elegant power.

On Norton's website, there's an interesting case study on how Carter Wong went about this project, as well as a vintage section featuring dozens of Norton posters, including these classic, cheesy 1960's 'Commando' posters, set in variations of the popular sans serifs of the period, Akzidenz Grotesk, Futura and Century Gothic.

More: Carter Wong Norton Project