From Hogs to Microprocessors
Best Practices in Integrating Messages
Today's Harley rider is more likely to fix your leg than break it;
yet it still retains the bad-boy image.
How does a brand like Harley-Davidson® remain relevant and hotly desired over a century of fads and trends? Why do people across the globe know Intel® even if we never realized we needed it before? These brands have found compelling ways to integrate their key brand benefit across platforms and throughout every point of communication with the consumer.
Some brands achieve this by communicating a single, creative idea in each execution for instance, the red and white logo of Coca-Cola®, which has identified it in the marketplace since 1886. Some use executional mandatories such as Calvin Klein®, which consistently employs simple, sexy, black and white photographic images to deliver its message. Some brands use personality, such as Nike®, which suffuses the themes of individualism and athleticism in all of its visuals and retail outlets. Other brands use a character to instantly associate the brand, like Joe Camel for Camel® cigarettes or Mickey Mouse® for Disney. One general rule applies however; successful communications integrate identifiers, offering solutions that are both blatant and subtle.
Harley powers on
Using its ads to connote rebellion and freedom, each Harley-Davidson campaign unites the attitude within the message and the lifestyle within the attitude. Poised to celebrate its centennial, Harley-Davidson is considered a status symbol among both affluent baby boomers and gritty adventure seekers around the world.
This translates into an American dream come true with a balance sheet to match. Global revenue for Harley's first quarter 2002 was US$ 927.8M compared with US$ 776.9M a year earlier a considerable 19.4% increase.
How does Harley do so well? Throughout the years, the tone and manner of its messages has remained instantly identifiable around the world. Slogans like, "Freedom to Choose," or "The Road Starts Here. It Never Ends," send a strong message of liberation and bad-boy indulgence. But Harley also uses a more direct approach to convey the genuine Harley experience. Through global events like Open Road Tours or ongoing opportunities like theme restaurants and retail outlets, Harley can connect with the customer and offer owners a chance to live the lifestyle. The total effect demonstrates the effectiveness of using the lifestyle theme to develop and grow a Community with which Harley can expand communications, yet still remain consistent to its overall brand.
Which is not to say that Harley always gets it right or has a smooth road to success. For instance, European revenues were US$ 302M in 2001, just 9% of its worldwide year-end global total of US$ 3.36 billion. However, supported by the launch of its first major European brand campaign this past March, first quarter 2002 sales jumped a healthy 16.6%, which helps to close the gap a little further against competing brands. Its first major attempt at promoting the lifestyle concept across the pond appears to have yielded immediate results and events like Open Road Tour demonstrate their commitment to expanding this market.
Making the microprocessor meaningful
Marketing microprocessors does not hold the same sex appeal as selling a motorbike. Not visible to the average PC user, the value of a microprocessor may not be readily appreciated, and few may have thought to even try to interest the public before Intel came around.
Through a brilliant branding campaign, Intel® managed to grow awareness in tandem with a universal explanation of the chip's function. The tech brand stayed on message with a clever connection between "safety," "leading technology" and "reliability." Consumers who earlier had never given the internal workings of their computer a second thought, suddenly began to believe there was value in buying a microprocessor from the established industry leader.
But Intel didn't just go directly to the consumer. It also built a valuable partnership with other industry players. The Intel Inside® Program, launched in 1991, became one of the world's largest co-operative marketing campaigns, with more than 1000 PC makers using the Intel logo to "guarantee" quality. This partnership network provided Intel with a vehicle on which to hang its sticker.
The subsequent advertising spots that launched in 1995 were especially effective in reaching the consumer, making a complex product seem simple through splashy, lighthearted ads. By integrating its logo with a distinctive three-second jingle, Intel successfully created a sonic brand identity to accompany a positive image in the minds of millions of consumers. The brand is recognizable by the distinctive "Intel Inside" sticker on your PC, the simple, clean ads promising quality, and the aural experience of the four bar theme. Today, Intel is one of the top known brands in the world.
Harley-Davidson® remains relevant and transcends cultural borders by marrying its brand message with a lifestyle. Newcomer Intel created a niche for a new and complex product by delivering simple messages consciously and subconsciously. These examples illustrate some fundamental components that brands can adopt in integrating a global communications campaign. Intel created a niche for a new and complex product that appealed to a non-technical consumer.