Harley Davidson cracks culture with the Tough Turban

Harley Davidson marries culture, society and regulations to develop an innovative new product: The Tough Turban

Harley Davidson is a brand known for having an almost cult-like following. Diehard super fans embrace the brand and community quite like no other. And whilst this feels like an unstoppable match for the brand’s ongoing success, it came with a significant drawback; the community looked rather, well, the same. 

The symbol of Harley and its community represented mainly white, middle America which alienated other ethnic groups across North America. And whilst the Harley trend was catching on in emerging markets, it couldn’t shed its ‘white’ undertones, making scalability and brand authenticity a real challenge. 

Harley Davidson, at its core, with all about ‘freedom’ boasting the tagline “All for freedom, freedom for all”. Diversity and inclusion were at the centre. 

Deep cultural understanding

Digging deep into the culture and understanding the community’s nuance is key to their success. For example, they identified a change in Canadian law that allowed Sikh motorcyclists not to wear helmets to respect their religious beliefs. However, whilst a positive step for inclusion, it also puts these bikers at greater risk. 

Harley Davidson began to conduct intensive research into this area, looking at how and why it was essential for Sikhs to be able to wear their turbans whilst biking. They also dug back into historical archives to understand the prominence of the turban and even how Sikhs wore it over armour in early war days. 

Marrying culture with technology

Marrying this cultural heritage with modern technology that they open-sourced, they came up with the Tough Turban. It was a turban made with the latest tech to harden on impact and allowed Sikhs to bike safely whilst respecting their religion. 

In doing so, Harley was able to make considerable strides to embed itself within a new community both in North America and in India. In addition, it was a powerful position to showcase that they were all about “Freedom for all”. 

Their research shone through, and it’s a great example of how you can genuinely make a significant difference to your audience when you mix society, culture, heritage, regulations and technology. 

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