There is no more recognizable brand than that of Harley-Davidson, and that brand evokes strong feelings among owners and non-owners alike. From their quiet beginning in a wooden shed in 1903 to the world-renowned reputation they have today, Harley-Davidson creates a culture that spreads even beyond the people that own their motorcycles.
Bikers and Outlaws
When many people think of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the first thing that comes to mind is outlaw biker gangs in most cases. Outlaw biker clubs are not necessarily outlaws, but are actually a group of riders who have ideals set in freedom, nonconformity and loyalty. The clubs often center on riders of Harleys and choppers, and although some of the clubs engage in criminal activity, the majority does not. In fact, outlaw biker clubs are often prominent at charity events, including toy and food drives, and many are well respected for their contribution to local charities.
The nickname “hog” derived from several sources. In the 1920’s, Ray Weishaar and a group of friends labeled “The Hog Boys” began winning motorcycle races on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. During the victory lap, the boys began putting their mascot, a life hog, on the Harley. The name stuck and in 1983, Harley-Davidson created a loyalty group, calling it the Harley Owners Group, or HOG. In 2006, Harley-Davidson officially changed its New York Stock Exchange ticker from HDI to HOG.
Harley Owners Group
The Harley Owners Group (HOG), formed in 1983 by the company in an effort to promote brand loyalty, promotes Harley ownership as more than just bike ownership, but as a lifestyle. Members of HOG spend, on average, 30% more than other Harley owners do on merchandise and Harley sponsored events, such as specialty rides and conventions. HOG is the largest factory-sponsored motorcycle club in the world, exceeding 500,000 members by the year 2000.
Harley-Davidson merchandise accounts for approximately 5% of the company’s total revenue, and many of those who purchase Harley logo items do not own a Harley-Davidson. Yet, the logo is so widely recognized and respected, it would be difficult to find anyone in the United States who did not recognize the Harley emblem. Owning a Harley is more than just owning a motorcycle, it truly does create a lifestyle for the owner.