Been meaning to do a nice little post on the CN logo by Allan Fleming as it’s close to being one of the most prestigious of brand marks ever. Since my previous post on the British Steel logo designed by David Gentlemen I became more inspired, and motivated, to do my own CN logo post.
My plan was to try and find alternative imagery for the CN logo as I know many websites have already covered, mentioned and referenced the CN logo. In my search over the last few days I have come across some fine websites that have done a great job of cataloguing the CN logo in a similar way to what I had planned myself.
This post will include some of the imagery and appropriate back-links to the originating website.
Hope you enjoy.
Allan Fleming (left) with Charles Harris at the launch of the CN logo in 1960.
CN Logo Resource Credits
The most notable of these websites that I viewed is The Canadia Design Resource which first posted details on the CN logo & brand back in 2006.
A detailed history on how the CN logo came to be can be read over at a rather tired looking About the 1960 CN logo. Although not a pretty web page by todays standards the information contained will provide you with all you need to know about the CN logo. It’s a must read.
One of the more comprehensive websites that has covered the CN logo in detail is DesignKultur: Tracing the Evolution of the CN Logo : 50th Anniversary 1960–2010
The Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art holds a number of photographs and scans of Allan Fleming’s work for CN, and some of these images I have used in this post. If you navigate to Resources and then do a keyword search for Allan Fleming…
The gorgeous photographs of the CN train towards the end of this post can be obtained by visiting the official CN website and navigating to their Image Gallery where you can download very high resolution photographs.
Allan Fleming standing in front of a CN boxcart.
About the 1969 CN Logo
The following select paragraphs are just a few I have lifted from About the 1960 CN logo.
After experimenting with countless possibilities, Fleming hit on a particularly inspired design while sitting on a New York-bound airplane. He quickly sketched the idea on a cocktail napkin – and CN’s logo was conceived.
While conceptualizing the future, Fleming drew on the past for the kind of image that would convey timelessness. Studying the Christian cross and the Egyptian symbol for life, he borrowed the idea of using a line of single thickness. “The single thickness stoke is what makes the symbol live,” Fleming later said. “Anything else would lack the immediacy and vigor.”
The continuous flowing line symbolized “the movement of people, materials, and messages from one point to another,” Fleming said. As the eye moves from “C” to “N”, the image suggests fluidity and motion. “It’s a route line that incidentally spells CN,” Fleming explained.
But let’s leave the last word to designer Allan Fleming, who unfortunately would not live to see his own prophecy borne out. He died in 1977, just 17 years after observing: “I think this symbol will last for 50 years at least. It don’t think it will need any revision, simply because it is designed with the future in mind. Its very simplicity guarantees its durability.”
Allan Fleming’s CN Sketches
The following images charts the progress of Allans idea process showing just how wild logo sketching can be.
From these early sketches iconic logos arise.
CN Logo Flickr Set
Nice little selection of old and new CN related photographs, including the old Canadian National Railways logo below.
Official CN Photography Library
Visit the CN website and navigating to their Image Gallery where you can download very high resolution photographs.
The CN Logo & Brand Guidelines
To wrap up here are the CN Logo & Brand Identity Guidelines which you can download as a PDF.