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Nurturing a Natural Brand Community

Smack took a long look at some of the world’s top brands and found the most successful businesses all have one thing in common: a loyal following of everyday consumers. Consumers that form vibrant and loyal communities around a brand, what Smack calls Brand Communities. This white paper will give you a quick look at how a major corporation corralled a number of its naturally occurring communities into a single, corporate led Brand Community.

Harley-Davidson Case Study: Nurturing a Natural Brand Community When you think of Harley-Davidson, what comes to mind? Well, motorcycles for sure. But if that wasn’t your first thought, we’d argue that it was probably an open desert highway, leather boots and gear, and a rumbling exhaust that could make a jet engine seem all too meek. We’d also argue that Harley-Davidson symbolizes rebellion, youth, freedom, and open possibilities. Kind of like the first time you let go of the handle bars while riding your bike. It’s an image created by the people. The riders. The enthusiasts that made Harley-Davidson one of the most recognizable and mythological brands in the world. It’s an image the company itself may have tried to dump, but lucky for them, they did something far smarter. Harley-Davidson nurtured the community surrounding the brand creating a corporate sanctioned Harley-Davidson Brand Community.

HOG Nurturing the Harley-Davidson Community
Seeing how deeply the Harley-Davidson culture was ingrained in the members of its fledgling Brand Community, the company initiated HOG, the Harley-Davidson Owners Group in 1983. HOG began as a program to help organize chapters and allow for greater interaction between members of the Harley-Davidson Brand Community. In the first two years alone, HOG grew to 49 chapters and over 60,000 members. Today there are over 1,100 chapters and over 1 Million chapter members. But it wasn’t simply the initiation of HOG that allowed for HarleyDavidson to...
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