2014, July, 07

Is Harley going soft, or smartly re-imagining boundaries?

Very few companies have cultivated such a strong and successful brand image as Harley-Davidson has. One that has created a whole lifestyle essence. But recently the company announced plans for a roadshow to introduce a line of electric motorcycles, which seems to go counter to its iconic brand image. Is this suicide or smart strategy?

The key to successful strategy is staying relevant. Any company that stops re-imagining boundaries runs the danger of becoming obsolete.  For Harley, its core followers are within the finite group of middle-aged men. In order to expand its relevance to new audiences, the company is venturing outside its current boundaries and looking to attract women and environment-conscious riders.  Importantly, Harley is doing this in a way mindful of guarding its brand image and not upsetting its current core followers.

Recognizing the need to re-imagine boundaries is often the hardest for companies that have highly successful current businesses.  Kudos to Harley for having the foresight.

Read related story in BusinessWeek:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-19/harley-goes-electric-in-the-race-for-new-motorcycle-riders

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