If you think about American brands, certain ones enjoy legendary status. You might consider Coca-Cola or McDonald’s. You may also call the Harley Davidson brand to mind. It has earned a reputation over the years, and you can’t ignore that when considering America’s most iconic names.
If you read a Harley Davidson blog, it might tell you how to care for these legendary machines. It can tell you about maintenance, but it may not explain why this brand dominates the motorcycle industry and why the trend should continue into the future.
Let’s explore that concept now.
The Brand’s Origin
For one thing, when you think about iconic American brands, you must consider ones that have been around for quite some time. You may think Harleys started gaining public attention when the Hell’s Angels ruled the roads, but they existed far before that.
Harley Davidson first came out with a relatively primitive motorcycle in 1903. Milwaukee produced the original models, which couldn’t go particularly fast, and didn’t much resemble one of these machines you’ll see on the roads today.
In 1907, the brand started gaining popularity, with Walter Davidson as the spokesperson and head cheerleader of sorts. He had a vision and a dream, and through luck and determination, he saw that dream fulfilled.
Arthur Davidson served as the company’s first general sales manager, while Willian Davidson was the company’s first works manager. The original Harleys mostly resembled motorized bicycles.
The American Outlaw
Over the years, the Harley models got bigger, faster, and more powerful. The company also began cultivating a particular image.
Much like the Marlboro Man, those who rode Harleys seemed larger than life and perfectly masculine. Of course, nothing said that only men could ride them, but many of the commercials featured rugged, manly types who extolled the brand’s virtues in deep, gravelly voices.
The marketing worked. The brand sold better than ever. Motorcycle movies had their day, mostly in the 1950s. Many of these exploitative films feature Harleys. The American outlaws the films portrayed smoked, rode Harleys, and looked cool doing it.
It was partly myth and partly fact. In California and throughout the American Southwest, biker gangs proliferated. The movies and ads on TV made some suburban dads, and moms, for that matter, think they could live a similar carefree lifestyle.
The Harley Brand Today
Today, anyone around the world recognizes the Harley Davidson logo. They know the color scheme. They might even correctly identify a Harley motorcycle when they see one, even if they know virtually nothing about this particular niche.
The brand’s image paints Harley owners as strong, tough, and rugged. Those who buy one, the branding indicates, can stay themselves, and they won’t conform. They like hitting the road and enjoying the speed and freedom this brand and their iconic machines provide. Those who ride one won’t let anyone tame them.
That’s appealing right now. Some people feel like their jobs or other things in their life stifle them. They feel restrained and want some escapism. That’s what they’ll get with a minimal financial outlay.
Once they buy a Harley, they have a Golden Ticket in their garage. They can hop on and drive off at any time. They can begin again and become someone else at a moment’s notice.
If you see someone with a Harley, they might have the company’s name tattooed on their body somewhere. That’s what this brand means. It’s a machine but also a lifestyle. If nothing else, it shows how the right marketing can make a brand iconic.