Such a great brand: it should be illegal ~ Brand Mix

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Such a great brand: it should be illegal

This was supposed to a blog about the Harley-Davidson brand being so powerful that it can get away with selling a product that's so deafeningly loud and obnoxious. Surely, I thought, as I heard a Harley roaring past me on the Embarcadero, someone would do something about this if it wasn't for HD's reputation as an American icon.

But then I did a little research and found out a) that the decibel-breaking loud exhaust pipes are fitted after sale and that "stock pipes" are relatively quiet and that b) there's legislation pending all over the place trying to ban these after-sale exhausts (which take advantage of a legal loophole and are sold under the label "for off-road use only").

So, instead, it's a story about challenges for companies that need to keep different stakeholders happy without compromising their brand and what it stands for. For HD that means finding a way to convince those have the power to restrict what it does (i.e. the government, community and opinion leaders) that it's listening to them without appearing all wimpy and establishment to its consumers and dealers. It's a high level of difficulty.

One approach that HD has adopted has been a PR campaign: "loud pipes risk rights" (to counter a pro-noise mantra: "loud pipes save lives"). This is good, as far as it goes, because it's using a brand-consistent, anti-establishment message: "they will take away our rights" to try and undermine one of the rationalizations for louder pipes. The question is whether this will be enough or will the company eventually be forced into other more damaging measures such as voiding warranties of modified bikes or going after dealers who sell and install these loud pipes.

No comments:

Blog Directory - Blogged