As a bit of a motorcycle nut, and someone who is saving all his pennies at the moment to one day own a Triumph, I found it very interesting to see their new brand identity take shape at the start of this year. They announced a slightly tweaked logo, a new collection of typefaces, and a new website. Largely, the design is an evolution, not a revolution of what had gone before. The colour scheme has been changed from a corporate light navy blue, to an arguably masculine black, white and red.
Triumph motorcycles have been around since 1885 and it has had a varied history, lasting through to 1983 where it went into receivership. Its recent chapter began in the early nineties, where John Bloor, a property entrepreneur, relaunched the company, bringing the it to where it is now, one of the largest selling motorcycle manufacturers in Europe, a strong prominance in the US, and plans for further international expansion.
The brand now is at a place of maturity, an established competitor in many segments of the market. Even though their history and heritage lie in the past, this has not held them back when making the branding decisions for this new chapter under John Bloor’s leadership.
I feel that the new direction that has been taken is a strong one, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark… Let me explain.
Motorcycling, in Europe at least, is struggling with the demise of the younger buyer, which pushes the purpose of motorcycling as a choice further into the realms of a leisure activity rather than a mode of transport. If that is the case, rather than specifically buying a motorcycle, you are buying into an experience, or a brand. Competitors with a comparable rich heritage such as Harley Davidson do this perfectly. Their products are simple, and very similar year on year, but they sell themselves on their brand. For example the photography used across their marketing collateral all are 'person' oriented, rather than focussing on the product. Everything from the interior design of their dealerships, their brochures, and their exhibition stands, all exude the ‘feeling’ or idea of what a Harley Davidson is, and what buying into that idea could offer the consumer.
I would argue that Triumph's latest brand update is a step in the right direction, but it misses the mark on emotional engagement. Emphasised when examining the logo alone, the letters are now all the same height, and the semi-serif inflections on each letter are now uniform, pointing the same way. Gone is the angular 'T' shape, owing its lineage to the 1930's identity. It’s a neat and pleasant tidy-up, but for a leisure activity which exudes non-conformity, it could seem for some, a little too squeaky-clean.
'It’s a neat and pleasant tidy-up, but for a leisure activity which exudes non-conformity, it could seem for some, a little too squeaky-clean'
However, on a practical design level, it must be mentioned that when put in its rightful place on the side of one of the bikes, it does sit well - neat with a solid rectangular footprint for the body of the text. The logo is finished by the ‘swoosh’ joining the ‘R’ and the ‘H’ so the overall effect is a much tighter, proportionate design.
That being said, for a company aiming for broader markets than their own back yard, these western centric pseudo-pitfalls of a clean logo-type or a supposed emotionless brand identity may not be seen in the same light by those in Brazil or India, two markets Triumph are aiming for next…
On the flip side, the use of the ‘T’ shield motif is a new approach, one that the company has never used before. The motif offers an incredible amount of versatility, from corporate letter heads, to merchandise. The compact size is neat, with good legibility.
It’s usage within the current scope of the new brand identity however can get a little confused with the various permutations. As seen in the image below both logo's seem to be fighting against each other slightly for the consumers attention as to what the main identity of Triumph is; shield or marque? I think it would be better if the two were separate, with defined roles for a stronger brand identity.
Who knows, this may be part of a five year plan, where the next stage of Triumphs history is further defined, but for me, it’s just not quite there yet.
This blog post was originally written by myself for Yoyo Design, the original content can be found here.