Harley-Davidson has stood the test of time in the world of brands as one of the most iconic and successful names in automobiles. More importantly, the brand has consistently conveyed its values of freedom, excitement, and most importantly, joyful masculinity, to legions of fans across the globe.
So successful is the Harley-Davidson logo that the company earns millions of dollars by licensing it alone for various merchandise and events. This article talks about the famous logo and how it has evolved over the years keeping its spirit and ethos intact.
The First Harley Davidson Logo – 1910
The story of Harley Davidson is more than a century old, with the first motorcycle being launched in 1903. However, for almost seven years, the company did not have an official logo. It was only in 1910 that Harley Davidson introduced its trademark logo featuring the iconic handlebar and shield.
For more than four decades, this was the sole identity of the brand, and it became famous wherever the brand went as a mark of quality and excitement.
The Introduction of the V in the Logo – 1953
For more than 4 decades, the original Harley Davidson logo served its purpose well, becoming the main identifying factor for the company. Customers and fans began associating with this logo. However, by 1953, a new generation of customers had entered the market, who expected more from the company.
So in 1953, which was the year of the 50th anniversary of the company’s founding, the company introduced the characteristic ‘V’ in their logo which made it more detailed and attractive for the new generation. The following year, the company began featuring this logo on a medallion that was fitted on their new models.
The Harley Davidson Classic Logo – 1965
After more than a decade, Harley Davidson decided to give their logo another facelift, which came to be the mainstay of the brand identity for the longest time.
This logo retained much of the form and elements of the original 1910 logo while reducing the sharpness of the edges and giving it a uniform colour. This was also the time when the logo was made more flexible, and the company allowed its dealers to create their own logo for the fleet.
The Bar and Shield Logo – 2003
The 100th year of operations was certainly something to be celebrated at Harley-Davidson. Among other things, the company marked this day by launching the new bar and shield logo. This logo clearly marked the two years that were a landmark for the company, i.e. 1903 and 2003.
The new logo also retained the Classic logo featuring the brand name, but gave it less prominence in the overall design. The new logo also expanded horizontally, with a pair of wings featured beneath the handle bar.
The wings added another layer of corporate identity to the logo, signifying the spirit of freedom and independence. Through this logo, people could identify the brand more easily thanks to the distinctive bar, shield and wings.
The Current Logo – 2008
This was the 105th year of Harley Davidson, and the company celebrated it by bringing out yet another successful iteration of its logo. This logo retained all the elements of the 2003 logo but redesigned them to suit a more modern sensibility. This logo was well-timed to appeal to the mood of a new generation of customers who sought a different kind of association with the brand.
For his new logo, the company created a circular design that enclosed all the other logo elements. The shield bearing the company’s name was brought closer to the centre, while the wings originating from either side of the shield curved upwards instead of outwards, and even crossed the circular boundary.
The years 1903 and 2008 were featured prominently along the bottom of the logo while ‘150 years’ was displayed on the top, flanked by the wings on either side. This is the logo that has sustained even after a decade of being in circulation.
The HOG Logo – 1983
While the above logos reflect the official company logo featured on its products, another logo was designed in 1983 specifically for the Harley Owners Group, a fan club of sorts for HD lovers, with international chapters in many countries.
This rather emphatic logo features a banner in the lower part with a bald eagle perched on a wheel placed in the centre. The lettering HG features prominently in the centre.
Whether or not one is a fan of the Harley Davidson bikes doesn’t take away from the fact that the company has managed to maintain an impressive logo design over the years. Looking at the trends, the company might already have a new logo in progress on the drawing board. Which of the Harley Davidson logos is your favourite?
Which elements of the current logo would you like to see in the next one?