LOGOS + GRAPHIC DESIGNERS | Allan Fleming :: Tracing the Evolution of the CN Logo ::: 50th Anniversary 1960 – 2010
Allan Fleming (left) with Charles Harris, director of public relations for CN, at the launch of the iconic logo in 1960
How many fifty-year-olds look as good as the CN logo?
Its simple elegance is truly timeless. It’s one of my favourite corporate identities, national or international.
As a child, I would never tire of drawing that loopy “CN” that trainspotters call “the wet noodle.” And that’s my mark of a good trademark: Can a child draw it?
I’d often turn it on its side and practice writing my number “3s,” making them a little more interesting that what the teacher taught:
The CN logo’s designer, Alan Robb Fleming, was arguably (and I’d argue!) Canada’s finest graphic designer of all time.
And it all started for him at the age of 30 with that train-track-like logo.
It marked the modern era in graphic arts in Canada. No longer were maple leaves required to signify “Canadian.”
It was 1960. We were young and the sixties (believe it or not) belonged to us, at least in the field of design. expo 67 would prove to the world how “advanced” we’d become, design-wise, in such a short while.
And Allan Fleming led the way.
Happy 50th, wet noodle!
Fleming and CN’s Harris at the launch of the new look, 1960
Centerm terminal – Vancouver inner harbour Photo > Daniel O’Neill, VPL
ALLAN ROBB FLEMING (1929–1977)
Allan Fleming was barely 30 when he was recruited to come up with a fresh new logo for CN. Yet the young Canadian designer had already made a name for himself with the bold, lyrical quality of his graphic designs.
Born in Toronto in 1929, Fleming followed a rather unorthodox route to professional excellence. He left art studies at Toronto’s Western Technical School at 16 to work as a kind of apprentice designer at various firms in the city. Then came further learning experiences in England, where he gleaned as much as he could from leading figures in the design world. Back in Canada, he joined the typographic firm Cooper and Beatty Ltd. in 1957 and was working there when the CN opportunity came his way in 1959.
Fleming left Cooper and Beatty in 1962 to become art director for Maclean’s magazine. He was vice-president and director of creative services at MacLaren Advertising from 1963 to 1968, chief designer at the University of Toronto Press until 1976, then joined Burns and Cooper. Fleming’s work won him numerous awards throughout his career, not only in Canada but in the United States and at the international level. Yet he is no doubt best remembered as the creator of CN’s logo. The inspired design certainly entrenched his reputation as one of Canada’s most talented designers. At the same time, it heightened the profile of his profession, opening the way to greater creativity in countless design applications across the country. Allan Fleming died after a long illness on December 31, 1977, at just 48.
- Society of Graphic Designers of Canada
The Globe and Mail Report on Business | The World’s Top 50 Logos
marketwire News Release | CN Logo Chosen as one of Top 50 Corporate Logos of All Time – Worldwide
Society of Graphic Designers of Canada | Allan Fleming
Wikipedia | Allan Fleming
Canadian Design Resource | CN Logo
Canadian National | 1960: CN
designKULTUR | LOGOS | GREAT CANADIAN LOGOS :: ICONS FROM THE TRUE NORTH
CN – BASIC ELEMENTS PDF
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- 2010/07/21 / 05:03
- ADVERTISING, ART + ARTISTS, CANADIAN DESIGN, CORPORATE IDENTITY, GRAPHIC ARTS, INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, LOGOLANDIA, TRANSPORTATION | PUBLIC