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Rebuilding the Brand: How Harley-Davidson Became King of the Road

Rebuilding the Brand: How Harley-Davidson Became King of the Road

by Clyde Fessler


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In the early 1980s, Harley-Davidson was on the verge of bankruptcy. In the general public's opinion, quality was substandard—of both motorcycles and riders. Harleys leaked oil and were often broken down. Riders were roughnecks, out to raise hell. The Harley-Davidson brand was tarnished. What s more, the charges were true.

By the mid-1980s, Harley couldn't produce enough bikes to keep the public happy. Dealers were selling bikes off the showroom floor, struggling to assuage customers frustration. And today, Harley-Davidson is a model brand. Harley-Davidson isn't just a motorcycle company anymore. It is a community, a look, a source of self-expression, an all-American appeal for freedom—all expressed in one little logo.

So, what happened? How did Harley manage to pull itself from the fire, brush itself off, and ride off into the sunset? The secret: branding. Histories will tell you how Harley-Davidson closed the quality gap between Hogs and the cheaper, faster, sleeker Japanese bikes; how Harley used Japanese manufacturing methods to increase its cash flow; how Harley clawed its way back from the brink of bankruptcy. All these aspects were important to Harley s rise from the ashes, no doubt, and as such are discussed in this book. But the true power of the big, beautiful, orange and black machine that is Harley-Davidson lies in its image, the Bar and Shield, the brand.

Rebuilding the Brand: How Harley-Davidson Became King of the Road is the story of how a core group led a team of not only marketing folks but also employees, management, dealers, and vendors to rebuild the Harley-Davidson image. Told through the perspective of Clyde Fessler—who held several positions within Harley, from head of marketing services to VP of business development—Rebuilding the Brand provides dynamic branding information couched in an entertaining story. Fessler describes the methods used to create the iconic image Harley-Davidson enjoys today, methods that can be translated to nearly any industry, and explores the topics of brand experience, brand personality, brand extension, brand association, brand consistency, and brand welfare.

Allworth Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, publishes a broad range of books on the visual and performing arts, with emphasis on the business of art. Our titles cover subjects such as graphic design, theater, branding, fine art, photography, interior design, writing, acting, film, how to start careers, business and legal forms, business practices, and more. While we don't aspire to publish a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are deeply committed to quality books that help creative professionals succeed and thrive. We often publish in areas overlooked by other publishers and welcome the author whose expertise can help our audience of readers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621534259
Publisher: Allworth
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 1,184,068
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Clyde Fessler is the former vice president of business development for Harley-Davidson Motor Company and currently works as a marketing consultant and business speaker. He held several positions while with Harley-Davidson, and he was integral in restructuring the Harley reputation from that of a broken-down piece of junk into a stellar power machine. A graduate of Notre Dame, Clyde enjoys fulfilling his dream of touring the world on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Table of Contents

Harley-Davidson Chronology: 1978-1996 ix

Introduction 1

Brand Experience 5

What Is Brand Experience 6

Brand Personality 6

The Harley Personality 7

The Route to Quality 9

Bonding with Customers 13

Harley-Davidson, All-American 14

HOG 15

Rider's Edge 18

The Super Ride Program 20

Brand Extension 23

What Is Brand Extension? 24

Your Customers First 26

Marketing Strategy 27

Harley-Davidson Motor Accessories 28

Harley-Davidson MotorClothes 30

Licensing 34

Brand Extension in Europe 40

Brand Extension in the States 42

Brand Extension Down Under 44

Overextended 46

Brand Association 49

What Is Brand Association? 50

Co-Branding 51

Brand Association in Film 52

Rock 'N' Roll 53

The World's Largest Music Festival 55

The Harley Racing Team 56

Brand Consistency 61

What Is Brand Consistency? 62

Dealer Development 63

Strategic Growth Plan 65

Designer Store Program 65

Bonus Bucks 67

Harley-Davidson University 70

The Double-Humped Camel 72

Stretching the Advertising Budget 74

Brand Welfare 77

What Is Brand Welfare? 78

A Commitment to Your Community 78

Community Involvement 79

The Muscular Dystrophy Association 82

The Rallies: Laconia 84

The Rallies: Daytona 85

The Rallies: Sturgis 87

A Commitment to Your Customers 89

Advocates for the Brand 90

Brand Team 93

What Is a Brand Team? 94

The Harley Brand Team 95

Forming to Performing 99

Brainstorming 100

The Takeaways 101

The Journey 103

Notes 105

Bibliography 106

Index 107

Customer Reviews