Interbrand, the leader in brand consultancy, ranks the Top 100 brands each year according to their brand value, with brands like Google, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds usually taking the top honors. Interbrand’s method looks at the ongoing investment and management of the brand as a business asset, and then assigns a dollar value to that asset.

In motorcycling no brand is worth more than the Bar & Shield of Harley-Davidson, and the Milwaukee-based company is an Interbrand 100 regular. Dropping nearly 24% of its brand value this year (the most out of all the Interbrand 100 companies), Harley-Davidson fell from 76th on 2009 rankings to 98th in 2010, losing over a billion dollars in brand value in the process.

This drop means Harley-Davidson is precariously close to falling off the Top 100 global brands list, and is seeing one of its most important assets drop in value. Interbrand attributes Harley-Davidson’s decline to a weak economy for motorcycles, and missteps in the company’s image through selling MV Agusta, closing Buell, and hiring a non-riding CEO:

Over the past three years, Harley-Davidson has seen a rapid decline in brand value as it becomes a less relevant purchase due to the recession. To deal with its losses, the brand has decided to restructure, exiting the sport bike market; it will discontinue its Buell product line and sell its MV Agusta unit, with the goal of focusing fully on the Harley-Davidson brand. However, unless it also invests into innovating, its product could become stale. This year, the brand also experienced some negative social media and press from an audience upset by the fact that the new, numbers-focused CEO does not ride a Harley.

The times are certainly tumultuous for Harley-Davidson, as the company recently played hardball with its Wisconsin-based laborers, parted ways with its long-time ad agency Carmichael Lynch, and issued Q3 stock dividends to help spur financial investors into buy Harley-Davidson stock. With an aging customer base and a stagnant product line, analysts and pundits (ourselves included) have clamored for Harley-Davidson to start innovating in its product offering. With a juggernaut like Interbrand echoing those sentiments, maybe Harley-Davidson will finally start listening.

Source: Interbrand 100

  • MTGR

    It would be nice if HD listened to this input, but if HD were willing to listen to intelligent suggestions by the industry, or even its own customers, they likely would not be in this downward spiral to begin with.
    Which suggests they will carry on with their heads in the sand, waiting vainly for the glory days to magically return.

  • irksome

    They will rue the day they screwed the REAL Great American Motorcycle Company. Being a Red Sox fan for 52 years, I know about The Curse.

    And blackmailing their union into agreeing to accept “casual workers” (their term) at $16 an hr with no benefits will begin to ring hollow with their core constituency. Casual workers with no benefits will produce bikes casually. Maybe they should just can the execs who’ve just sold MV for $1, screwed the pooch on Buell and have steadfastly insisted on producing archaic and anachronistic bikes for a clientele closer to trading for an RV and a walker than a new XLGHCR$T.

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  • Tom

    Ry_Trappo, where are you with your stories about Harley dominating the youth market and growing? This isn’t about hating Harley people, this is about seeing the numbers that exist before our eyes. Harley is paying the price for its decisions, decisions that smart people years ago knew would lead to where we are today. GM got to where it got in the same manner and the American Empire will face the same realities in the next few years as well.

    Decisions have consequences and now, thousands in Milwaukee face a very uncertain future due to the decisions of a few short-sighted executives. Naturally, the idiot slaves blaming the unions will be here very shortly. Its a shame that their kind didn’t all die off on the Titanic when they blamed the maids for the ship sinking.

  • Craig

    Goodbye HD. You won’t be missed. Of all the boneheaded moves by a company in a difficult market, HD’s recent “missteps” have to be near the top of the list.
    Looks like the old timers at HD will have to “take back” the company once again to get it back on track. Doesn’t this company ever learn from past mistakes? Hey HD, innovation is NOT a different paint job or new chrome bits or a larger engine. That’s marketing, not innovation!

  • Barry G Russell

    Good post and comments are on the money too.

    In the 90s I admired Harley for the way it was using the certainty of demographics to build their brand and business on affluent baby boomers. Too bad they didn’t figure out that a decade or so later those guys would be struggling to throw their legs over a heavy bike developed at about the same time they were. What they’re doing now is no more than managing the company’s decline in such a way as to squeeze as much cash out of it as possible for its shareholders.

    HD’s only hope is for Bob Parsons to sell Godaddy fast and use some of the proceeds to extend his motorcycle business into manufacturing. He’s got the passion, vision and cajones to make the company great again. In fact I’m going to tweet him this link right now!

  • Steveo

    Much agreed.

    A personal story. I went to Northern CA for the GP race and rented a street glide. My wife and I got on and left the parking lot. I had high hopes, I had never ridden a harley (vulcan, shadow, gold wing ETC but never an HD). I have owned 3 sport bikes currently an a well modded SV.

    Now We headed into SF on the highway expecting a much more comfortable ride than the SV. Well as soon as the highway was bumpy my wife started shouting make it stop and by the time we reached the hotel, she had tears in her eyes from spinal compressions.

    She said that was the worst ride of her life. I promised to make a few adjustments to the rear suspension and that it would be better. I adjusted preload added some air to the rear shocks to keep it from bottoming. (mind you combined we weigh about 315 with gear on).
    She gritted her teeth and we rode the following day down PCH then inland.

    By the time we returned the bike we were both glad to be rid of it. She told the owner that this thing was worthless handled like poo and is the worst thing a female could sit on. Except for the sissy bar. I explained to him that this was inferior and it was due to crummy suspension and a lack of travel. His reply well if they put longer travel the tire would hit the fender. So in reply I said its poorly designed not to mention worthless brakes and a 600 LBS dry weight with zero pickup and no front end feel.

    I will take a Vulcan, shadow or Winger anyday. Maybe a classic 60’s harley for nostalgic value but there is no sensible reason to spend over 14K on a inept bike that lacks anything except a radio.

    Now to reitterate, GM produced a lot of bad products from 1990 – 2007 they have started making changes but still lack most appeal to sensible cars. They allowed unions to control employment and let out of date engineers design vehicles with simple flaws and a lack of interest aside from their ability to get replacement parts the cars are virtually garbage. Harley though fairly reliable lacks any appeal to newer customers are priced above entry level and lack something that appeals to a buyer thinking of buying a ZX-N, R6s or an SV I mean 7K for a decent sportbike, or a dinky 8K sportster that barely moves out of its on oil leak.

    There is the problem, now can it be fixed “maybe” but lets hope that it doesn’t end as Indian did.

  • BR

    Baggers, trikes…. wheelchairs?????

  • Les Medland

    I’m 68yrs and wanted a Harley all my life (but out of my price range) so 7yrs ago bought a Kawasaki 1500 Drifter (2002 model) I use it all weathers and keep it in my front garden with just a Motorcycle Cover over it.
    Around the same time my son-in-law (Nigel) bought a Brand New Harley Davidson Heritage, it’s never been out in the rain and kept in a dry garage. About a year later (Nigel) rang me up to tell me that he was getting his Engine Uprated (£2,900) he told me that it’s not for Top Speed, it’s for more Grunt.
    I replied “Get a Kawasaki”
    He had the HD Heritage about 18mths and rang me again to tell me that his Starter Bendix and Ring had striped, when the Starter Motor was removed he noticed that his Frame was going Rusty.
    I replied “Mine ‘s Not”
    He owened the HD Heritage for about 3yrs and then sold it at a loss, he was told by the 4th HD Dealer( Who did trade it in) that HD’s from that period had Poor Quality Control, 3 HD Dealers would not even Trade it back in.
    In the UK Motorcycle Groups, Harley Davidson in recent years has gone down hill rapidly. Customer Service,Quality Control, Trade in value, Etc.
    Yours:- Les Medland.

  • Steveo,

    I agree with much of what you say but let me expand on a couple of points.

    Regarding GM– I really think you’re confusing the engineers with the bean counters who were whispering sweet nothings to the senior executives. The engineers that I know are numbers people and I’ve seen nothing from the engineers at GM to indicate they’re not. They were given a mandate from the leadership and they carried it out to the best of their ability.

    Did the engineers know these were inferior designs?Yes. Did they make their concerns known to management? Yes. Did management give a rat’s ass? No.

    GM engineering wasn’t the problem. GM management’s pursuit of cost cutting to increase profit (which isn’t a bad thing until it starts to interfere with quality and safety) combined with the ever increasing weight of UAW work rules and restrictions have gutted GM.

    Hopefully they’ve seen the beacon from light house and have turned away from the rocks but only time will tell.

    To be far to Harley, the entire industry is in a downturn. That being said, they’ve made some eye raising decisions. They want a younger demographic yet decide to shut down Buell with the argument that the bikes weren’t selling which is true. The thing is Buell wasn’t given a fair shake. Sold from HD showrooms, using HD engines and parts, they were almost set up to fail.

    I still don’t understand why HD won’t commit to making one bike, just one, that will appear to a youth market. The entire line up doesn’t need to change. Just make a good faith effort (not a Sportster rehash) and see where the chips fall.

  • aptimus prime

    All of this criticism should be forwarded to the Japanese as well. There products are vastly superior, but their business practices were equally as stupid. They built their record sales on credit, and repeat customers never materialized. Furthermore, they completely failed to shield themselves against currency fluctuations.

    Everything that has been said about H-D’s abuse of the core market can be said of the Japanese in regards to the sportbike segment. They did a miserable job changing WSBK from 750s to 1000s and as a result they have been baited into participating in 2 versions of MotoGP. Their replica racers are over priced and over complicated. They require frequent maintenance, they have non-existent theft protection, and many companies don’t even want to insure them. In foreign markets the products are heavily taxed, heavily regulated via licensing, or they are banned. All the while, the Japanese have watched with relative indifference as crotch rockets have become synonymous with a new breed of outlaw bikers who commit their crimes on the roadways at high speeds (unlike the Easy Rider version of outlaw biking). The expansion of credit has cratered the market for reasonably priced sport bikes in the U.S. though the SV650 and the Ninja 250 have remained relatively strong throughout.

    Does anyone know why the Japanese still haven’t discovered the concept of engine scaling in the sportbike market? I don’t. They offer 4-5 different versions of the same supremely-expensive, high-revving I-4 layout with a few oddball twins thrown in just to keep things fresh. Do they have any idea how much money they could save consumers if they raced 750cc triples instead of I-4 600s? They only have to develop airflow technology once, and many engine parts would be interchangeable. Plus it would be narrower and produce better torque. What do they need? A handwritten invitation?

    You’d expect this kind of idiocy from Harley, but not from the Japanese. They generally don’t get blindsided by their own stupid business practices. Perhaps they need to put a tighter leash on the national subsidiaries. Pumping cheap credit into a market segment that is battling inflation is a 100% guaranteed way to implode your business. That lesson is applicable to Harley or Honda.

  • Tom

    Prime, I think the reason you don’t hear complaints against the Japanese is because they are foreign while Harely is American. If Japanese bike companies go bankrupt, that doesn’t have the same economic or psychological effect as it would if say Harley were to die. Granted, there are true hardcore haters who want to see Harley die but there is a much larger group that wants to see Harley become a real motorcycle company again.

    Beware the loveless critic and the uncritical lover. Both are destructive.

  • Stacius

    I’m a Buell owner. I don’t want Harley to die. But I do want them to realize that the ‘lifestyle’ they sell along with their bikes isn’t appealing.
    I’ve had a ton of mixed feelings about HD. My first ‘bike’ was a 200cc Vespa scooter. From there I got a Kawasaki Drifter 800. A few years later I purchased a older Kawa 750 I-4.
    That made me realize that I wanted something with the torque of the V-Twin, with the riding position and handling of the 750. I looked around for a Speed Triple and right around that time H-D decided to drop Buell.
    So I went to have a look. I was amazed at how well I was treated! I got an 1125R. I still get occasional emails from my salesperson, asking how things are going. My problems with the Buell have been small (burnt out turn signals). I’d totally buy from them again.
    However, whenever I go out to the dealership and wander around, dreaming of my NEXT bike…they have NOTHING that appeals to me!

    I would LOVE to see an American take on the Brutale or Speed Triple. I’d buy HD’s if they made something I wanted.

  • Tom

    Stacius, I too would love to buy an American bike and yes, I would even buy a Harley if it were the right bike. Personally, I love the V-Rod despite its faults because here in Japan, I’d never get to ride to its limit but it has enough torque to move me. Harleys are too pricey here though. Personally, I’d like to see Harley make something like a Ducati Diavel despite the scathing comments by some on this board. For my needs, a bike like that would be great.

  • Ry_Trapp0

    Hey Tom, I’m right here! This still doesn’t change the fact that H-D has been leading the ‘heavyweight'(as defined by R.L. Polk) bike sales to young adults(ages 18 to 34) since 2006 and leading ALL on road bike sales to young adults(ages 18 to 34) since 2008, both stats as determined by the independent agency R.L. Polk.

    Considering the fact that this article doesn’t have ANY sales numbers in it, I’m not sure what this has to do with H-D’s bike sales to young adults. I mean, there certainly isn’t anything in here to refute my FACTS.
    If one were to actually use a bit of logic(scary, I know) when looking at both of these articles, it becomes pretty damn apparent that the H-D management is being ran by morons. Much like the domestic automakers in the early 2000’s actually, some of the top selling brands, yet they were in the red. Willy and the family are cool and all, but they need to step back like Bill Ford Jr did and let an Alan Mullaly type come in and turn the ship around. Just like Ford, the sales are already there, but the product is lacking, and they are just plain wasting cash.

    An interesting note, Interbrands dropped H-D’s brand value 43% last year as well. I would be shocked if H-D were still on the list next year, they are falling off a cliff right now.

  • Tom

    Your facts are meaningless as I proved in the previous thread. That you continue to spout them off as though they give you some sort of value is most amusing. Harley leads in the heavyweight category where only it competes and RL claims its leading in on-road bikes. Despite this, Harley’s sales are still plummeting and its going bankrupt. Even you finally admit that now. Harley is not expanding despite any claim you want to bleat here. My point continue to grind yours into the dust. You cannot and will not win.

  • Ry_Trapp0

    My facts are… …ummm… …facts. Twist it in a pretzel all you want, but H-D doesn’t have a problem selling to the younger generation. Harley continues to lead ALL on road bike sales to young adults(ages 18 to 34), and has since 2008, as reported by the independent agency R.L. Polk.
    I never denied it. You kept trying to change the subject, I kept trying to keep you on topic.
    I have made no claims of expansion. I mean, the closing of Buell and the sale of MV Agusta sorta kinda show the exact opposite.

    I may not win, but it will only be because you can’t discuss any H-D issue without your own personal bias and ego getting in the way. Enjoy your victory.

  • Tom

    “My” facts are not my facts but rather the only ones that matter. You keep cheerleading in irrelevant point. You’re bragging about the Titanic being the finest sailing ship that is unrivaled on the seas….the same time its sinking. You’re correct that the Titanic is the greatest ship and that fact could not be denied….until the ship sank.

    Its the same with Harley. Its sales numbers are actually dropping. This is a fact. So, although Polk says that Harley is leading in sales of ON-ROAD bikes, its still dying. I’m sidestepping nothing. I concede the point….because it doesn’t matter. Harley is simply not diversified as is Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Ducati, Yamaha (and a few others as well) where these companies can tap into non-road bike markets as well as watercraft, lawnmowers, ATVs, etc. Harley is simply not selling enough bikes to the younger market to survive…much less thrive.

    This is the point that you ignore because you have to accept the reality that you champion a pyrrhic victory. Harley is not attractive to the youth market and the company has no alternative income streams to protect them from this reality. This is not my bias or ego. This is REALITY no matter how energetically you ignore it.

  • Ry_Trapp0

    Wow, speaking of twisting pretzels! You originally said “young people aren’t interested in H-D”, or something to that extent, and I posted facts that say otherwise. That’s all I’ve posted. That’s all I’ve ever posted. All I’ve “championed” is the fact that H-D leads ALL on-road bike sales to young adults, yet you seem to be inserting not just words, but entire sentences and paragraphs in my posts that just aren’t there. Go ahead, quote me. Find one post where I said “H-D makes the best bikes”, or “H-D is perfectly fine shape”, or “H-D is being ran by geniuses”. Anything. Anything besides “H-D is the market leader in blah blah blah”.

    BTW, you make a great point about diversification. That Ducati lawn mower I picked up two weeks ago is fantastic!

  • Tom

    There is no pretzel. Young people are not interested in Harleys. I proved that with sales numbers….which are down – way down for HD. This is the end of the argument which you lost weeks ago and Harley is continuing to lose leading to its financial woes. Your ego is crushed and you want to lash out because you cannot accept being proven wrong. Thus….

    I love that you keep coming back because you claim to not care about Harley, yet you will die to defend what you see as their slighted honor. LOL! Your actions give lie to your words. If you really didn’t care, you’d cling to the Polk report and ignore the overall sales numbers and be on your merry way to the nearest pirate bar.

    Harleys are not appealing to young people and the sales numbers prove it. You don’t have to say anything else because you haven’t posted a pertinent fact yet. Harley is dying and your words (and Polk’s report) can do absolutely nothing to change this. Every other major bike manufacturer has an alternate revenue stream on which to draw cash flow to pad their economic downturn – revenue streams completely ignored by Polk yet crucial to destroying your argument.

    Oh, BTW, Ducati (among others) makes dual purpose bikes which don’t count as on-road bikes by Polk and are thus not counted in this category – the only category that HD competes in. Research Ry, research. Look into it Captain Pyrrhic Victory!

    Perhaps, you’ll eventually be able to see the difference between one who simply reports the dying of Harley versus those who cheer its demise. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? You’re an emotional cripple who only wants to “win” so you can feel validated.

  • Ry_Trapp0

    First, the sales numbers that YOUR talking about are total sales numbers, not demographic sales numbers. This means that they don’t represent ONLY younger riders(the topic at hand). My numbers, on the other hand, do. I have yet to deny that H-D is failing as a company and has falling sales numbers, but this doesn’t change the fact that they lead ALL on-road motorcycle manufacturers in new bike sales to younger riders(ages 18 to 34).

    Haha, I’m sure as hell not coming back here to defend H-D. I have no desire to own a Harley – or any cruiser for that matter. I like corners. I come back because I throughly enjoy arguing(sad, I know).

    Alright, lets say your correct, and Harley’s don’t appeal to young people. It STILL doesn’t change the fact that H-D sells more new on-road bikes to young adults(ages 18 to 34) than ANY other manufacturer. I mean, I’m not sure how they could be unappealing yet leading, but I guess that’s some sort of absurd possibility.

    Oh, BTW, I did the research you suggested, and Polk(and other market research companies) consider dual purpose bikes as ON-ROAD bikes, because they are registered as such. No, really, it’s right there in the knowledge base on their website. Nice try though, I find I have better luck when I don’t make shit up.
    And, yes, that means that Polk doesn’t ignore Ducati’s so called alternate revenue stream – the dual purpose motorcycle.

    Perhaps, you’ll eventually be able to see the difference between one who simply wants to put incorrect assumptions to rest, and someone who blindly promotes a failing brand as the best thing since sliced bread.
    The whole “emotional cripple” thing did give me a laugh though. It’s a shame that you’re dropping this far instead of just being logical(I.E., admitting that your assumption was wrong, instead of assuming[again] that I have some ridiculous ulterior motive).

  • Tom

    Again, you champion a pyrrhic victory. I already conceded the Polk report because it doesn’t matter. Harley may be leading in large barges and on-road bikes but its still dying. Young people are the growing demographic – GenY and they are not buying enough Harleys to keep the company afloat. GM was the world’s largest car company right up till it went bankrupt. So, nothing has changed. You still champion a pyrrhic victory. I’ll continue to easily deconstruct your idiocy….

    “I mean, I’m not sure how they could be unappealing yet leading, but I guess that’s some sort of absurd possibility.”

    GM can tell you had you bothered to research. SCOOTER sales are booming. Large on-road bikes is a shrinking category. EVERYBODY is hurting in this category but most other companies offer profitable scooters while Harley does not. This is part of what I meant by alternative revenue streams. Young people are buying scooters. Can your brain now process this simple concept?

    “Oh, BTW, I did the research you suggested, and Polk(and other market research companies) consider dual purpose bikes as ON-ROAD bikes, because they are registered as such.”

    No they are not. That is why I made the point. Dual purpose bikes are a separate category just as are scooters.

    I’m glad I made you laugh because its easy to amuse the stupid and weak. The logical thing for you to do is to stop lying about being a Harley pirate. But you won’t. You want to be validated on a point that I already conceded because it doesn’t matter. Harley is not appealing to young people and unless this changes, its going to go bankrupt. Other companies have alternate revenue streams such as dual purpose bikes (and power generators, aircraft, cars, atvs, etc.) and scooters – something that Harley won’t even consider offering to pad its decline as most other companies have done and have saved their butt from being in the same shape as HD. Your bloviating and trolling cannot change this fact. You lost the argument before it even began and that’s just fine by me.

  • Ry_Trapp0

    Hey Tom, maybe if you repeat your lies long enough, they’ll come true!

    Really man, just keep on quoting me out of context. Keep undermining my facts, keep trying to change the topic(H-D’s new bike sales to young adults[ages 18 to 34]), keep putting words in my mouth, keep arguing semantics, keep distorting the facts, and keep on labeling me. I’m sure some people will think your “owning” here, but the few that actually do a fragment of research and actually read what I’m posting up here will see where the bullshit is coming from. But don’t worry, you’ll impress a few people with your ability to ignore fact and outright change the topic altogether.

  • Tom

    Thank you for your admission of defeat. It was a long time coming. I quoted you in context and reality undermined you. I merely served as a a vessel showing how your desperate attempt to win an argument. Your right that Harley is a sales leader but in a shrinking market with no other revenue streams. Harley has big cruisers (which aren’t selling like they used to) and that’s it and its a shrinking market. My point still crushes yours. had you been alive in 1910, you’d be championing the leading horse whip manufacturer against his competitors as though the car was not out there destroying that market. Thank you very much for serving as a bad example at logical thought.

  • Ry_Trapp0

    You know what Tom, you are the master of internet arguing. I was about to say “debate”, but that would assume that you presented facts to come to a conclusion instead of hurling logical fallacies and insults just so you could “win”. Hell, your proclamation of victory is a fallacy in it self! Go ahead though, stroke that ego. You clearly need it since you’ve avoided the topic of debate since post #1.

    Maybe if you repeat those lies long enough, they’ll come true!!!