Harley Davidson I Believe That The Idea Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Business - Advertising Type: Essay Paper: #6824366 Related Topics: Anthropomorphism, Celebrity, Tap Dancing, Freedom Riders
Excerpt from Essay :

Harley Davidson

I believe that the idea of brands having a personality is little more than hyperbolic anthropomorphism. Personality by definition implies personhood, something an abstract concept like a brand cannot have. Rather than a brand having human traits, as the concept is often understood (Investopedia, 2012). A brand personality is more accurately described as a reflection of traits that the consumer either shares or aspires to. The brand "personality" by this understanding is not necessarily the same thing as the personality of the target audience, however. Harley Davidson is a good example of this -- most of the brand's core target market consists of successful, middle-aged men, a market that in reality embodies little of what it hopes the brand reflects back on them. Harley stands for something that they would like to be, or have been, rather than something that they are.

In the case of Harley-Davidson, a significant amount of the "personality" of the brand consists of aspirational traits. Hagerty (2011) highlights some of these characteristics -- "born to be wild," "dangerous," "big" and "powerful." Again, these are traits that the brand reflects back on the consumer; the consumers themselves may embody none of these traits. That the Harley Davidson brand, rather than the company's core product, reflects these traits is evident when taken in consideration of non-bike branded products. The Harley brand has the same connotation when on a keychain or T-shirt as it does on a giant motorcycle.

Aaker and Fournier (1995) note that it can be difficult to measure a brand's personality. There are few consistent measures that can be used across different brands, largely because the concept of personality by its nature lends itself more to qualitative measures. While there may not be consensus on how to measure a brand's personality, the analogy does lend itself...


For Harley Davidson, the abovementioned descriptors make a good starting point, with similar adjectives like "independent," "free thinking," "non-conformist," "tough" and "macho" among others also applying well. These attributes reflect back well on males, especially those who are trying to reconnect with those aspects of their own personalities, much of which may have been subsumed as they progressed into adulthood. Often the riders are not any of these things -- many are older and quite cautious in life (Johnson, 2011). However, they do view these attributes positively and aspire to them, at least to some degree. However, these attributes do not necessarily reflect as positively on females. This is why Harley has worked to find a slightly different brand personality for the female audience, encompassing the traits that best reflect that audience. "Macho" is eschewed while "independent" and "fun-loving" are given greater emphasis. The brand's personality is flexible, because it reflects the audience.

With respect to some specific traits, Harley Davidson would be neither singing nor dancing, but might be playing in the band, depending on the type of music, probably as the bass player contributing a low rumble. Or it could be the bouncer of the club. Harley Davidson is most certainly not walking or sitting -- Harley is riding with the wind in its hair. These traits represent the brand, and are integral to the band. The brand would look like a middle aged man, rough, a real biker who has been on a bike his entire adult life. Harley probably has a beard, and a beer gut. Harley doesn't care about how he looks, though. He's clad in leather, and wears boots, and a giant belt buckle. Harley has a sun-weathered face from too much riding, and is covered in dust after a long ride. This image may be the reality for only a small percentage…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited:

Aaker, J. & Fournier, S. (1995). A brand as a character, a partner and a person: Three perspectives on the question of brand personality. Association for Consumer Research. Retrieved February 19, 2012 from http://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/display.asp?id=7775

Hagerty, J. (2011). Harley, with macho intact, tries to court more women. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 19, 2012 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204505304576655244217556816.html

Investopedia. (2012). Brand personality. Investopedia. Retrieved February 19, 2012 from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/brand-personality.asp#axzz1mqXJ2sQZ

Johnson, R. (2011). When heaven in a Harley. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 19, 2012 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203537304577030113224587198.html

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