Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Harley-Davidson and Place Marketing

Is there any brand that has a more fervent following than Harley-Davidson?

In his recent blog post, Mark J.Miller calls Harley-Davidson a modern-day symbol of rebellion and anti-authoritarianism.

The company has also recently teamed up with musician Kid Rock, whom it calls a “legendary musician and "American Badass."  The brand is serving as the sponsor of Kid Rock’s 60-city Rebel Soul tour.

The blog post quotes Kid Rock as saying “What’s not to love about Harley? In 110 years, no one has done a better job of representing America – there is nothing that screams America like Harley-Davidson.”

As evidenced by Kid Rock’s quote, Harley-Davidson has built its brand – at least in part - on Brand America.

A nation gets a brand identity based on its strength of delivering a quality product consistently over time (eg: USA for freedom, Switzerland for banking, Italy for fashion, etc.).

Conversely, the symbolic value of a nation’s products, like Harley-Davidson, Coca-Cola and Apple in the US, contribute to the brand image and reputation of a country.

Consumer product brands even extend to local community brands.  Milwaukee has also benefited from Harley-Davidson, Seattle from Starbucks and St. Louis from Anheuser-Busch.

We don’t believe that any country or community has reached a brand following with the fervency of Harley-Davidson fans.  However, there are lessons to be learned and applied to place marketing, starting with a clearly defined marketing plan that capitalized on their uniqueness.  Read more about how this once lackluster brand created a passionate following here.

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