Harley Davidson & BMW – Less Reliable & More Loved (Motor Cycles)

harley davidsonMy husband is a biking enthusiast – he got his mid-life crisis motorcycle license 5 years ago, and is on to his 4th motorbike – each one larger and more powerful than the one before. This year he graduated to a Harley – and he loves it. He loves getting online and checking out motorcycling gear, he likes the forums and the tips for great roads to ride. The other day he came across this article – it’s a very powerful statement about the impact of brands and how our emotional attachments can completely override rational, common sense. There’s a huge amount that’s been written about the brand resurgence of Harley Davidson

The upshot from a recent survey showed that Japanese built motorcycles are far more reliable than Harley Davidson’s or BMW – and even though the owners know this – They Don’t Care!

Even though Harley and BMW riders had more serious problems with their motorcycles – their intention to repurchase ‘their brand’ was very high (75% for Harley & 74% for BMW). This is the brand loyalty every CEO, Marketing Director and Brand Strategist strives for. Their Japanese competitors make good quality bikes (that’s not in dispute) – they just don’t have the brand charisma, personality or attraction of a Harley Davidson or a BMW. This is a very challenging conundrum for brand strategists and marketing staff at Kawasaki and Honda; they can prove the reliability and superior quality of their brand – they can’t create the magic, mystique and drawing power of a Harley Davidson.

As a brand strategist I find this information fascinating – it reinforces some of the fundamental tenets of building powerful brand connections with your target audience:

  • Create a sense of belonging (being part of a tribe is important)
  • Create emotional connection with the brand and brand community
  • Continually reinforce the touch-points that surround the brand – the images, words, stories
  • Stand for something distinctive (not everyone will like you, and some will LOVE you)
  • People will forgive a brand’s mistakes and flaws if they are deeply bonded to the brand (particularly if the brand is truthful)
  • Give people the chance to really make the brand theirs – involve them
  • Enable greater brand interaction through related products and services (being able to buy the HD panniers, riding gear, helmets etc enables more involvement with the brand, and significant revenue streams)
  • The people who work for the brand, really love it too (their stories are part of the folklore) – brand culture is a potent business enabler.

How is your brand creating emotional connections with your audiences?

By Fiona Pearman


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Shared with permission of Fiona Pearman, Brand Illumination Pty Limited.

www.brandillumination.com.au    T +61 2 9973 2696

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