Ducati owns probably the most valuable brand name in motorcycling, and like many brands Ducati finds ways to monetize this asset by licensing it out to other companies. One great marriage and example of this is the Ducati branded apparel available from Puma, which sees both brands benefitting from a racing/apparel association. One not so great example of this concept however is the Toshiba Satellite U500 Ducati Edition laptop, which sees the vanilla of portable computers get stamped with the mark of Corse Rosa.
The default opinion of marketers, analysts, and the general population is that Harley-Davidson has one of the strongest brands in the United States, this being confirmed by the fact that every business student in America has studied Harley’s marketing efforts if they’ve ever taken a brand management course. So why would I start a three-part series on how to fix Harley-Davidson by arguing to change one of the most revered marketing houses in the motorcycle industry?
Giving credit where credit is due, Harley-Davidson, or I should say its admirers in business school academia, wrote the book on demand generation marketing geared towards the baby-boomer generation. However, in defending this market position, Harley-Davidson has painted itself into a corner by only engaging a very small segment of the population with its product. Unless they redefine and reposition their company image and who it resonates with, Harley-Davidson is going to watch the continued erosion of its footing in the motorcycle industry, and also the continued deterioration of its only industry leading quality: its brand.
Now that Erik Buell Racing has moved into its new office space, the company has wasted no time in branding itself with a new logo. For the Buell loyal, this symbolism should look familar, as it plays heavily off the fairly fresh Buell Motorcycles logo.
What do you do when the financial arm of your company goes from making $100 million a year to losing $100 million a year? Why you kill off two other brands in your company of course. That is the move the Keith Wandell and the Harley-Davidson board of directors made yesterday with their announcement of shutting down Buell, and selling off MV Agusta. Realizing that the Harley-Davidson brand accounts for the majority of Harley-Davidson Inc.’s income, Harley-Davidson executives saw there being little choice but to sacrifice its other two holdings to save their namesake.
Taking cues from the Ducati Monster, Olivier Henrichot has put his photoshop skills towards creating a Ducati & Fila branded athletic shoe that takes the Monster’s frame and fuel tank visuals, and incorporated them into the shoe’s design elements.
Noticeably missing from the 2010 Buell line-up, is the Buell Blast. The quirky, modest, and reasonably priced entry-level motorcycle that not only powers the bikes from Mac Motorcycles, but also sheds insight on what would happen if Tonka made a two-wheeler. While the bike provided a nice stepping stone for anyone that wanted to enter the world of motorcycling, it never fit into Buell’s image as an “American Sportbike” company. So Erik Buell crushed it.
Things have been quiet on the Italian front after Harley-Davidson acquired premium sportbike manufacturer MV Agusta last year, with the American company apparently leaving the brand alone for a while after its purchase. The company we love to hate from Milwaukee has finally started to make some changes in the old Italian brand, drawing a clear line between what product lines will focus on a premium road bike experience for the rider, and what products will be developed for track day weaponry for the weekend warrior.
Spanish magazine Solo Moto has gotten word that Harley-Davidson has put together a plan to revive the Cagiva brand. Cagiva, like many Italian marks, has struggled the past years because of poor financing and business management. In its deal to acquire MV Agusta, Harley-Davidson also acquired Cagiva with that hopes that the American company could provide a remedy to these problems, and has recently laid out its plan on how it is going to achieve those goals. Read more about their road map for Cagiva after the jump.
Aprilia has relaunched aprilia.com with a much needed redesign, complete with media richness. For some time now Aprilia has been making beautiful and stylish bikes, without lending the same attention to detail to the rest of their corporate branding. The new site is bold, red, and clearly designed by someone who spends a lot of time in Apple’s iTunes.
Looking good Aprilia, now call me when you have your supply chain figured out.