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How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding by D. B. Holt

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CHAPTER 7

Coauthoring the Myth

THE HARLEY-DAVIDSON COMPANY (HDC) is nearly everyone’s favorite corporate turnaround story.1 It goes something like this: HDC, which once competed with several dozen domestic motorcycle companies, became the sole American motorcycle manufacturer in 1953 when Indian, its only serious competitor, folded. HDC struggled in the 1960s as new Japanese competitors like Honda and Kawasaki entered the market and quickly dominated the smaller bike sizes. In an ill-fated attempt to expand into other motorized products, HDC failed to extend its business to snowmobiles and golf carts.

As the motorcycle market took off in the late 1960s, the recreational products company American Machine & Foundry Co. (AMF) bought HDC. The quality ...

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