With roots as far back as 1885, Triumph Motorcycles is the largest British manufacturer of motorcycles and, apparently, the world’s longest continuous production motorcycle manufacturer despite changes of ownership and including going into receivership in 1983. Triumph designs and produces a range of motorcycles from ones that go vroom-vroom really fast and others that go vroom-vroom to make you look like a bad-ass. (This should clarify my expertise in bikes). At the end of 2013, Triumph introduced a revised logo and new emblem designed by the London office of Wolff Olins with typographic assistance by Rick Banks.
[We developed a refreshed logo and new brand symbol. For the logo we made only a small change, redrawing it slightly to make it more usable on their modern bikes whilst staying true to its original unique design and heritage. Alongside this we developed a new and bolder brand symbol to use both on bikes and at events and shows — this incorporates the new logo into the original ‘makers mark’ triangle with a design that celebrates their British heritage. Supporting this we worked with McCann Birmingham who developed a new more biker focused communications style and activation platform and strapline ‘For the ride’. This activation platform is designed to highlight Triumph bikes capability to deliver the best ride (handling, drive, ridability), represent Triumph as a brand that enables the rider to have ‘the ride’ — the perfect ride in terms of their experience (the desert tour, the road trip, the best ride to work ever) and ultimately position Triumph more in the customers world.
The new wordmark maintains the basic premise of the “R-H” ligature wordmark introduced in 1934 but now comes in a rounded-corner, sans serif flavor that takes away some of the more baroque aesthetic of the previous version. I’m a fan of flared serifs in general so I personally would have liked to see those stay in the new version while cleaning up its usability as the new one does. It’s definitely crisper and better developed but it also lost some bite. The new emblem… I don’t know, it’s clunky. In the quote above they refer to a “makers mark” which I am guessing is something along the lines of this, with the Union Jack flag in a triangle; this new interpretation sort of looks like parts of the flag but it also looks like a pair of mechanical wings, neither very convincing or pleasing. It’s just oddly spaced and arranged inside the triangle.
However, when you have sexy motorcycles to put the logo on and the light reflects just so on its metallic surfaces, you can’t help but be smitten by it. It’s good that the bikes feature the wordmark more prominently than the emblem, because it does look pretty good on them.