109 years ago, the famous Norton logo first appeared on the tank of Norton Motorcycles. Did you know that it was brought to life at a family meal by our founder and his daughter Ethel in 1913?
The Energette was the very first Norton Motorcycle, produced in 1902 and featuring the first ever (and little-known) Norton logo. With bold, upper-cased letters, this emblem accompanied Rem Fowler as he led Norton to our first racing victory at the 1907 Isle of Man TT. It signified the start of a legacy, but the style of the logo still recognised to this day was actually brought to life by our founder and his daughter Ethel in 1913. In this blog, we explore how the Norton logo has evolved over time and explain what our current logo represents for us now.
A logo is defined as: A symbol displayed on a company’s products and signs that expresses the company’s character and purpose, and makes it easy for customers to recognise and remember the company.
Our famous logo (arguably the most iconic), was designed by our founder and his daughter Ethel over a family meal. With flowing lines and a nod to old English calligraphy, this logo made its first public display on a magazine cover in 1914 and within just two years, it was featured on every Norton motorcycle. Reflecting popular styles throughout the decades, from fancy flourishes to bold edges, it introduced the most recognisable feature of every Norton logo that followed: the curve that crosses through the letter t.
THE MEANING BEHIND THE LOGOS
Visual communication has been recorded since prehistoric cave paintings, but it was in the Middle Ages when letter design became popular. The aesthetics of writing became a part of storytelling, a way to communicate emotion. From artistic calligraphy in personal letters to defined typography in manuscripts, letter design has played an important part in communication for centuries and is therefore crucial for branded advertising. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the changes that the Norton logo has undergone, what these changes signify, and how it has remained an identifiable and authentic emblem for over a century.
NORTON THROUGH THE YEARS
Norton Motorcycles entered the roaring twenties as a popular manufacturer after gaining a reputation during the First World War. Out of the post-war years emerged a great deal of innovation and creativity, and the 1921 Norton logo represented that Art Deco flair elegantly, with a less bold, more delicate font. Capitalising on the popular styles that signified jazz and glamor, this logo also resembled the sleek but strong lines of the bike designs themselves.
Over a decade later, Norton entered a dominating period of racing in the Isle of Man TT, and the logo transformed to reflect its strong and resilient character on the tracks. The 1932 redesign had confidence and controlled strength; it communicated a serious and self-aware status in the racing industry, here to win and here to stay.
1960 birthed the Norton 350 Navigator and the world’s first superbike, the Norton Atlas 650. Norton was succeeding, innovating and growing fast, so it’s no wonder the logo needed a refresh. The 1961 logo encapsulated the power and poise of Norton Motorcycles, with sharper, defined lines reminiscent of the original emblem.
When the Norton Commando was first seen in public in 1967, it led to a boom: In the decade that followed, over 500,000 were sold and the Commando was named Motor Cycle News’ ‘Machine of the Year’ for five successive years (1968-1972). It was a decade for free-spirited adventure seekers, and this is notable in the softer flicks of the letter N, as rounded points were a typical typography feature in the seventies.
Fast forward to the 21st century after the first victory for a British bike in almost 30 years (Steve Hislop’s 1992 TT win), the Norton logo remained bold, with very little need to change.
In 2010, the font of the logo changed and the style sharpened prior to a period of competitive racing. The registered trademark symbol in the top right corner was also added.
The 2016 redesign removed the additional arm of the letter t and combined this instead with the swoop of the N. This logo sped across with Josh Brookes on the fastest British bike at the Isle of Man TT in 2018.
THE NEW NORTON
Now, we have a new logo to reflect the new Norton. When TVS Motor Company acquired Norton Motorcycles in 2020, we set to reinvent the brand with a twist on tradition. Influenced by our heritage whilst not being defined by it, we wanted our style to reflect the past and future combined. Our logo remains confident, sophisticated, and unassuming. Refining and crafting what existed, we’re on the pursuit for perfection.
It’s a more angular and advanced marque that pays tribute to our origins whilst matching our vision for the future.
With greater balance, cleaner form, and generous spacing, this logo is blunt without being brazen. It’s focused without being boring, and sturdy without being cemented. It’s a symbol that allows us to innovate, blending expertise with design flair, achieving an emotionally-compelling style that speaks of unyielding quality.
We’ve tightened the original line across the letter t in one seamless statement that says we’re united and secure. We’ve removed the flicks and flourishes for a modern look to achieve trust and respect. We think it’s a perfect balance of form and function, one that’s not only road-racing inspired, but reflective of our high-performance team. It connects with fans of every generation and the ones to come.