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

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Triple Nickel Press, 2012 - Business & Economics - 113 pages
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.


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About the author (2012)

Clyde Fessler, retired vice president of business development for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, played an integral part in the company's dramatic turnaround.Fessler joined Harley-Davidson in 1977 as advertising and promotions manager, but was soon promoted to director of marketing services and later, general sales manager, director of licensing, and vice president of general merchandise.Fessler established new policies and programs, many of which are still used today. He repositioned the rider accessory department and led the MotorClothes team from $20 million in annual sales to over $100 million in just five years. As vice president of Motor Accessories, he developed the strategy that doubled the business in three years and tripled it in five years. He retired from Harley-Davidson in early 2002 and is now a marketing consultant and motivational speaker.

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