We received an email from Paul Gaudio, Director of Design and Development for Norton Motorcycles, clarifying their reasons for bringing back the Norton name instead of starting anew. We previously commented on the number of old marques, both auto and motorcycle, coming back to life after the original companies had gone out of business. We made the point it appeared to often be a case of simply buying the rights to a name, creating a new vehicle and gaining a foothold in the consciousness of potential buyers because of it, without any connection that made using the old name necessary. There are some who might call it misleading, like going to see a concert by an old group only to find none of the original members still in the band.
Here are Paul’s thoughts on the matter:
Triumph is a great example of leveraging the equity of an historic brand to compete in the contemporary marketplace. Mini has succeeded, Ford is successful … others are not. The advantages of re-launching an historic brand are clear, assuming the manufacturer is faithful to the virtues of the original brand. Perhaps more significant, a successful re-launch assumes that the values of that brand and the attributes of the products that once helped to define it are still desired in the marketplace. Additionally there are significant cost savings with a re-launch of a well known and loved brand as brand definition and communication work can be minimized. Brand recognition is a valuable commodity in this world.
The Bonneville helped Triumph to reconnect with riders that cherished the classic Brit-bike experience and is driving the growth of their business. Passion for the brand and desire for experiences, old and new alike, exists, what is the harm in fulfilling this? What is possibly more significant is that the Bonneville success helps pave the way for great new motorcycle developments such as the Daytona 675, Rocket III.
As for Norton? The new company was founded by Kenny Dreer, a long time Norton enthusiast, restorer and manufacturer of the Norton Commando VR880. These were old bikes built with contemporary technology and up-to-date performance components, and demand was great, but the bikes were costly to produce and old parts were getting scarce. After a cease and desist order and a four year battle for the Norton trademarks, development began on the all new Commando.
Our obligation to the Norton Community is to fulfill expectations and deliver the Commando 961 series. Our obligation to the Norton brand is to fulfill the dream of an all new, state of the art Manx platform, and once again take to the race tracks of Europe and the world.
Paul’s points are well taken and he reaffirms the advantage of using a cherished brand name from a marketing perspective “assuming the manufacturer is faithful to the virtues of the original brand.” Pointing out the connection with Norton due to Kenny Dreer’s activities prior to founding the new company shows there is perhaps a bit more lineage in place than in some other recent attempts to bring back the dead.
Those of us who’ve witnessed the passing of old and famous names always feel a twinge of sadness. If only they could have survived, but business is much more than fondness for old memories, it is product development and sufficient sales to cover costs and be profitable, not an easy task in today’s global marketplace. Is the rebirth of an old company a sound business plan? That’s for the market to decide. There is certainly nothing wrong with the idea and maybe there’s a whole lot right with it. The Norton years were great. I for one hope their new motorcycles are hugely successful. Time, as always, will tell.
Now, about the new Norton girl …
Also, be sure to check out the original Norton motorcycles for sale now.