Even though Harley Davidson started selling in India only in 2010, Indian biking aficionados even earlier would swear by the HD, just as their US counterparts do. Such is the aura of the brand.

It is not the best performing machine around, not the fastest or the neatest. It is not even environmental friendly. And yet the brand evokes cult following. It’s logo is tattooed on more men than any other logo. In fact the Harley logo, according to Kevin Roberts, has gone beyond from being a trademark to a “lovemark.”Harley Davidson is a brand of mystery and legend, a brand that symbolized the ultimate in masculinity, ruggedness and attitude. It has inspired its own “Harley Owners Group” (HOG) and its own fashion statement. A stranger riding a Harley in America, is not a stranger to another Harley rider, he is a “brother”.

So what is the secret of the legend?

Perhaps the fact that not many people like Harley, fewer still will think of spending on Harley when they can buy a car for the same price. Harley, the brand, and its advertising make strong masculine, full-of-attitude statements, that puts off most people. But it also attracts some people – those who like extremes – simply because they feel they are part of an exclusive club. They feel that by associating themselves with the Harley brand they are not just riding a bike, they are making a statement about their personality and character, they are differentiating themselves from the 99% other “ordinary” folks who crowd the roads with their ordinary vehicles.

When people buy Harley they buy into this mythology and legend, like getting initiated into a secret cult group. And when you are part of a cult, the product doesn’t matter, nor rational behavior. For most Harley riders, riding a Harley is an escape from the every grind of life, reflected in some of its ads. Credit goes to the company for not losing this focus and diluting its cult status for close to a century.

As discussed above, the four attributes that make Harley a legend are:

  1. Belongingness – Everyone riding a Harley is a “brother” with similar beliefs.
  2. Masculinity – One of the most masculine brands on earth. It gives men “power.”
  3. Mythology – When people buy Harley they want to be part of it’s mythology.
  4. Cult Status – When you are part of a “brotherhood” the stats and price don’t matter.