Harley-Davidson: A Perfect Example of a Brand Survivor and Protector

Many times, people hear them before they see them. Whether individually or grouped in a crowd, they come rumbling loudly and distinctly. Dressed in shiny chrome, tailored colors, personal insignias, and unique designs, Harley-Davidson motorcycles make a big statement. So big in fact that they make up approximately half of the U.S. motorcycle industry. In 2017, company revenue reached $5.65 billion with 242,788 retail motorcycle sales worldwide. No other motorcycle company compares with the strong customer base that surrounds the Harley-Davidson brand. Its Harley Owners Group (HOG) boasts more than 1,000 chapters and more than one million members around the world. The company even has a Harley-Davidson Museum located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that showcases 450 motorcycles, attracting an estimated 300,000 visitors annually.

This year, Harley-Davidson celebrates its 115th anniversary, which is no small feat for any company, let alone one that offers nonessential products. Over the years, Harley-Davidson has endured depressions, wars, and strong competitors, and still reigns in the motorcycle industry today. It has offered hundreds of models in three broad categories: touring motorcycles, cruiser motorcycles, and sportsters & street bikes. However, while motorcycles are at the crux of the brand, its merchandise is no small factor in the success of the company. In fact, in 2016, the brand’s clothing accounted for 5% of total sales, at nearly $285 million.

Since clothing and the overall use of the brand name contributes to the success of the company, Harley-Davidson aggressively pursued an infringement case against print-on-demand T-shirt company SunFrog. SunFrog’s service allows customers to design T-shirts and store the designs in the company’s online database, in which other customers can use. This method makes it easy for customers to use a company logo to design a shirt and then give access to that design to countless other customers. In this case, more than 100 instances of infringement occurred using Harley-Davidson’s designs, to which Harley-Davidson objected. As a result, Harley-Davidson won the biggest awarded trademark infringement case in history at $19.2 million.

This verdict comes at a crucial time for Harley-Davidson as the company faces a slump with 2017 representing the third annual decline in sales. This slump forces the company to close its Kansas City, MO factory and to focus on other ways to build sales. However, as history has proven, Harley-Davidson is a survivor with a powerful brand. After all, it is one of the most recognized brands in the world. With new target market demographics such as women, minorities, and young adults, an electric motorcycle in the near future, ever-evolving models, and consistent protection of its brand, Harley-Davidson may survive another 100+ years!

Ryan Lochte’s Path to Value Redemption

Ryan Lochte is one of America’s most decorated male competitive swimmers. His accolades are plentiful with 12 Olympic medals, including six gold, three silver, and three bronze. He is the world record holder in the 200-meter individual medley, and was named American Swimmer of the Year and World Swimmer of the Year twice by Swimming World Magazine. In total, Lochte has won 70 medals in major international competitions, with 45 of them gold. In addition to his swimming abilities, Lochte’s is known for his good looks and lively personality, gaining him publicity through magazine covers and television appearances. He has appeared on the cover of Vogue and was named in People Magazine on the “Sexist Man Alive” list. He made appearances on 30 Rock and Beverly Hills 90210, and starred in his reality TV show, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?

Today, Lochte’s net worth is reportedly $6 million. While this is no small amount, it could possibly be much higher had he not been involved in a scandal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. During the Olympic games, Lochte and others reported a robbery, later confessing that it was a fabricated story. Lochte’s actions cost him millions in endorsements with companies such as Speedo and Ralph Lauren immediately ending deals with him. Ending deals with a celebrity who faces bad publicity over a misdeed is a common reaction. Companies choose celebrities who are perceived positively by their target audiences because the companies want to associate their products with someone liked and admired. If these companies continue to use celebrities who have negative or undesirable publicity, it may appear to the public that these companies condone the actions of those celebrities. Therefore, they could lose consumer trust. As brand image is all about perception, companies do not like the risks that bad publicity can generate.

While most people make poor decisions at one time or another, celebrities are held to higher standards because they are public figures. Therefore, their poor decisions could turn into big financial and monetary losses. Other athletes who lost endorsement deals because of behavioral actions include Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, and Kobe Bryant. Over time, these athletes were able to rehabilitate their image and companies began to work with them again. These athletes continued to prove their valuable skills by winning more awards and making records in their respective sport. They were also able to convince the public that they regretted their actions, and they continue to prove this by staying on their best behavior. However, their misdeeds will always follow them, making it even more work for them to convince the public that they are changed people.

Fortunately for Ryan Lochte, he has been given new opportunities since the scandal. One such break was becoming a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. This kept him in the public eye in a big way as millions of people watch the show. But perhaps the biggest break is that several companies have been willing to endorse him, despite the scandal. These companies have made Lochte a poster boy for starting anew with such campaign slogans as “Clean Start” with PowerBar, “Just Let Me Work” with swim apparel company TYR, and “When Life Happens” with Debt.com. The CEO of cough drop company Pine Bros. specifically stated that everyone makes mistakes and wanted to give Lochte a second chance, capitalizing on the company’s “forgiving” message. Fortunately for Lochte, these breaks came relatively fast after the scandal. With luck, good behavior, and continued success in his sport, Lochte may be on the path for redeeming his value in the public eye.

Carrie Fisher’s Brand Legacy

On December 27, 2016, Carrie Fisher, best known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, passed away from complications after suffering a heart attack. Fisher was among the original cast members in Star Wars, which debuted in 1977. Fisher starred in Star Wars episodes 4-6; however, the storyline for episodes 1-3 did not include Fisher’s character or other famous original cast members including most notably Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. However, in 2015, episode 7, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, brought back fans’ beloved characters, resulting in the highest-grossing Star Wars movie to date.

Although Fisher was best known for her role as Princess Leia, she also starred in numerous movies including The Blues Brothers, Scream 3, and When Harry Met Sally. In addition to her film career, she also appeared in a host of television shows including Laverne & Shirley, 30 Rock, Sex in the City, The Big Bang Theory, and others. But acting wasn’t her only talent. She proved to be a skilled writer, authoring nonfiction and fiction books, as well as screenplays.

Fisher’s talent as an author and writer kept her in the public eye. However, her publicity was also often riddled with turmoil in association with her addictions, depression, and bipolar disorder. Rather than hide or deny these issues, Fisher spoke frankly and publicly about them, becoming a devout mental health advocate. Although she may have suffered from mental health disorders, Fisher’s natural humor and wit helped her deal with them and show others they could too. In fact, Fisher’s family helped her get the last laugh, placing Fisher’s ashes in a Prozac pill-shaped urn.

At the time of her death, Fisher’s net worth was $25 million. As with the death of any celebrity, her value is likely to increase in the short term as fans demand memorabilia, her movies, and her books. In fact, just a few days after Fisher’s death, Star Wars merchandise sales associated with Carrie Fisher increased three times the amount from the week before. In addition, demand for her books skyrocketed, with the publisher anticipating ongoing demand by reprinting tens of thousands more of her books.

While celebrity value often fades after a death, Fisher’s estate may likely continue to maintain significant value for the foreseeable future, especially with the Star Wars hype. Episode 7, Star Wars: The Force Awakens reached record sales of over $2 billion in anticipation of showcasing the original Star Wars cast, in which Fisher played a significant role. This movie fueled the interest in long-time Star Wars fans from the late 70s, as well as younger crowds. It is likely that the release of episode 8 set for later this year will fare well as many fans will be willing to pay to see Fisher’s last performance. In the meantime, they will continue to buy merchandise as there is nothing like an original cast member for avid Star Wars fans. Even if Disney decides to exclude Fisher’s role in episode 9, the hype will still keep fans coming back to the original characters. Princess Leia will always be one of the main characters that fans associate with Star Wars, whether Fisher is in a film or not. Also, if Disney works out a deal with Fisher’s estate, memorabilia featuring Princess Leia will likely continue to create demand and value for years to come.

Arnold Palmer’s Value Lives On

On September 25, 2016, the professional golf industry and its fans lost one of the greatest golfers in history. Nicknamed The King, Arnold Palmer played a critical role in the golf industry as a trailblazer, changing the way the world viewed the sport of golf.

During Palmer’s career, spanning more than six decades, he won 62 PGA Tour titles, 7 major titles, the PGA Lifetime Achievement award, and became one of the first inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame. While his accolades are remarkable, Palmer’s role in the golf industry was more considerable than that of a golfer, in which he earned $7 million. He devoted his life to the sport of golf by designing hundreds of golf courses around the world, making golf a televised event, co-founding The Golf Channel, owning the Bay Hill Club and Lodge, among others.

At the time of his death, Palmer’s net worth was $700 million, making him one of the top ten richest athletes in the world. As is the case with many athletes, he accumulated the majority of his wealth beyond his athleticism. As already mentioned, he delved into a variety of avenues that involved golf beyond playing on the course. However, one of the biggest ways he earned his riches was through endorsements. In fact, he is among the top three athletes to make the most money via endorsements, falling behind only Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods at $1.3 billion. His charisma, skill, and likeability made him a top choice for promoting products. Companies he worked with include the likes of Coca-Cola, United Airlines, Westin, Holiday Inn, Ford, Pennzoil, and many others. At the time of his death, Palmer was still endorsing products!

In addition to his earnings as a professional golfer, his endorsements, and his golf course designing projects, Palmer launched wine and apparel products. He also had a drink named after him, in which the Arizona Beverage company distributes today, earning $200 million in 2015 alone.

As with the death of any notable athlete or celebrity, value tends to rise in the short term due to nostalgia. Nobody likes to lose a person; therefore, fans grab as much product as they can immediately following a death so they can hold on to something in remembrance. In Palmer’s case, his wine, apparel, and tea are likely to experience a spike in sales. In addition, he has a book that is set for release on October 25. Sales are likely to be higher than anticipated as a result of his death. In fact, the book soared to #1 on Amazon at the news of his death, despite the fact that it hadn’t been released yet.

Palmer leaves behind a big footprint in the golf industry. His name, products, and legacy will live on for years as a result, contributing to his value long after his death.

Budweiser’s Temporary Brand Change: A Gamble or a Smart Strategy?

It’s not often that a company temporarily changes its brand. Changing a brand is a huge gamble. It’s a gamble because consumers typically do not like change, becoming accustomed to the look, products offered, and reputation of particular brands. Therefore, brand changes can cause confusion and concern that a product has changed as well. However, Anheuser-Busch has recently taken that gamble.

In May of this year, one of the biggest brewers in the world has decided to try a new tactic to attract consumers. In an effort to spike lackluster sales, Anheuser-Busch announced its intent to temporarily change the brand of one of its most popular beers, Budweiser. Taking advantage of a political year, patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, and the summer Olympics, the company is strategically timing the brand change. The company announced that the temporary change from “Budweiser” to “America” will extend from May to November, when the elections end.

While changing a brand can prove risky, the brewer is banking that consumers will readily recognize the design as Budweiser. Although the words have been changed on the label, the design and colors are decidedly that of Budweiser’s. In fact, at first glance, a consumer would likely associate it with Budweiser. However, confusion may occur when consumers pay closer attention and realize that the name is different. This may lead consumers to question whether it is a knockoff brand from another company or whether the beer itself has changed in taste.

The company hopes that the “America” rebranding effort will appeal to consumers’ patriotism. However, immediately upon its announcement regarding the change, consumers flocked to social media with negative comments, especially given that the company is not based in America. Despite this fact, Budweiser has consistently remained the “All-American” beer, so the idea of rebranding it “America” may not be so far-fetched after all.

Another risk of rebranding typically includes high costs, especially for large corporations. However, Budweiser is one of the biggest advertisers in the America. It spends millions of dollars on advertising each year, spending more than $275 million on Super Bowl ads alone for the past decade. Therefore, it seems its rebranding effort pales into comparison. The company’s rebranding announcement has sparked numerous articles on the Internet, garnering it more publicity with little effort on its part. The more publicity a company receives, the more recognition it gains and the more it remains on the forefront of consumers’ minds. For the actual design of the rebrand, it is likely that the costs are low considering the company is using a recognized label and simply making minor changes, specifically replacing words.

With a continuing decline in sales and increased competition in craft breweries, Budweiser has to try new ways of enticing its customers. According to Forbes, Budweiser ranked #25 among the brands with the highest value in 2015 at $23.4 billion, with sales of $10.9 billion. Therefore, the costs of rebranding will not likely harm the company, making the gamble worth a try, even if it doesn’t generate the returns the company hopes to gain. It will be interesting to see how the change affects sales by the end of November.

Prince: A Valuable Musical Legend

Many talented musicians have made their mark in the music industry—some more famous than others. However, few have reached the caliber of the world-renown musician known as Prince. Born on June 7, 1958 as Prince Rogers Nelson, Prince began his music career at the young age of 17. Since his early start, Prince’s talents and mark on the industry became widespread over the years, making him a musical icon. Fans loved his mysterious personality and eccentric style. Fellow musicians applauded his musical talents and his efforts in gaining rights to his own recordings.

Prince offered many talents to the entertainment world. Although most widely known as a singer, he was so much more. He was a performer, delivering mind-blowing concert tours. He was an instrumental genius, playing most of the instruments in his first five albums. He was a composer, producer, dancer, and even an actor, earning an Academy Award for his role in the movie “Purple Rain.” While he exhibited many talents, perhaps his biggest and most gifted was his songwriting. Not only did he write his own songs, but he wrote songs for many other musicians such as Alicia Keys, Stevie Nicks, The Bangles, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper. He loved writing songs so much that he had a vault filled with unreleased music—enough to release an album every year for the next century.

If there were any question about Prince’s success, proof existed in his net worth of $300 million and the many accolades he received through the years. In 2004, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He won a Golden Globe, seven Grammy awards, and an Academy Award. Not only did he receive many awards, but he also boasted an impressive discography of 39 studio albums, 3 live albums, 6 compilation albums, 17 video albums, 136 music videos, 13 EPs, 97 singles, and 1 remix album. At the time of his death on April 21, 2016, Prince had sold more than 100 million records, placing him among the top-selling artists in history.

Even in the event of his death, fans will still purchase his work. In fact, when a beloved musician dies, it is not unusual for his or her record sales to climb shortly after death. People rush to the store to purchase albums in remembrance and to nurse the ache a loss often brings. This is especially true for untimely and unexpected deaths such as Prince’s. While his record sales were not at the height of his career at the time of his death, his death spiked sales by a tremendous amount. In fact, the weekend after he died, album sales reached 399,000 albums, which was a 16,000% increase from the previous weekend.

Many famous musicians, such as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and others, continue to bring value to their estates posthumously. Prince will be no exception. His published works and the royalties from songs he wrote for other artists will continue to provide value.  However, Prince’s massive unpublished catalog sets him apart from other deceased artists. Potentially, fans around the world could hear new Prince songs for decades to come, which could make his copyright portfolio one of the most valuable in history after the death of an artist.

Craft Beer Names Prove Challenging

“Bottoms Up!” a common toast, can be heard around the world on a frequent basis. One of the reasons is because beer is the world’s favorite alcoholic beverage, and also the third most consumed beverage overall, after tea and water. According to Nielsen Scarborough, more than 110 million people in the United States alone drink it. In 2015, U.S. beer reached about 197 million barrels and $105.9 billion in sales.

While beer has been around for ages, the craft beer trend has changed the dynamics of the beer industry. According to the Brewer’s Association, the number of craft breweries rose from 2,401 in 2012 to 4,225 in 2015. Craft beer production is expected to increase yearly with 25.4 million barrels in 2015 to an estimated 37.4 million in 2020. Craft brewing accounted for 12.2% of share in the beer industry in 2015 and grew 12.8% to reach $22.3 billion. This growth rate is significant as overall beer sales only increased by 0.2%.

The top five leading craft beer brands in 2015 included Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Shiner, and Lagunitas. While these are established craft beers that are widely known, the proliferation of craft breweries adds more craft beer brands to the mix. The trend is so popular that people are crafting beer from home, with an estimated 1.2 million home brewers. As a result, the number of different flavors available today is astounding. With these new flavors and brands comes the task of creatively naming them. However, the large number of breweries and new beers present challenges in the industry.

Too often, craft breweries find themselves in the midst of a trademark battle over a name. What they thought was a fun and creative name that would help consumers associate with a particular brand and flavor often becomes a legal nightmare. The more the craft brewing industry expands, the more likely trademark issues will continue. Many trademark conflicts involve geographic names or brewing terms that have already been used or that may cause confusion. Therefore, craft brewers have to be especially inventive in a crowded space.

While creating unique flavors gives each brewery a competitive edge, creating a unique name is proving to be a challenging task. However, without a creative name, craft breweries will find it difficult to gain recognition. Therefore, they must think outside the box to come up with as interesting names as they do flavors.

David Bowie’s Brand Value

The entertainment industry lost one of its most talented and eccentric entertainers on January 10, 2016. Unbeknownst to fans and much of the entertainment industry, David Bowie was diagnosed with cancer and endured an 18-month battle. In a world where few secrets are kept and speculations abound, his death came as a huge shock when news flooded the media of his death.

Starting his musical career with his birth name David Jones, the famous singer decided to change his last name to Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones, the lead singer of the Monkees. However, this wasn’t the only change he made during his career. He had several alter-egos, including Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, and the Thin White Duke. These egos often personified the type of music he performed, which ranged from rock, heavy metal, and psychedelic folk, to pop. But his singing was only part of his musical talent. He also played a number of instruments, including the guitar, keyboard, saxophone, drums, cello, and more.

With such a wide range of musical talent and his ability to continuously reinvent himself, David Bowie became one of the most successful music artists of all time. At the time of his death, he had 26 studio albums, record sales of approximately 140 million, and a net worth of $230 million. He was also rewarded with gold and platinum albums in the United Kingdom and the United States, and silver albums in the United Kingdom. In addition, he received numerous awards and nominations including Grammy awards and MTV video music awards. He was a smart businessman as well, selling rights to future royalties of his back catalog of songs for $55 million in 1997.

While he spent nearly 50 years as a singer, he was more than just an acclaimed musician. He also starred in films, television shows, and Broadway performances. True to his nature, he preferred to play unusual characters that showcased his dramatic and eccentric presence. His ever-changing appearance, musical range, and acting stints made him an entertaining icon. He was mysterious, theatrical, and talented, making him less than mundane and giving him opportunities to delve into new territories frequently.

Perhaps one of Bowie’s greatest achievements came shortly after his death. Bowie’s album Blackstar, released on his 69th birthday and just two days before his death, was the first album of his to reach number one on the charts in the United States. Sales of his last album skyrocketed, selling 43,000 copies just one day after his death, with streams of his songs soaring by 2,700%. All his albums moved to the iTunes’ top 100 two days after his death. In addition, his death spurred the sale of movies he starred in such as Labyrinth and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.

The increase in sales and an album climbing the charts often occurs following the death of an entertainer. Fans mourn the death of a famous person such as David Bowie by buying his work. This is one way to keep him “alive” and within reach. It is also what keeps David Bowie’s value strong. While his value will naturally decline over time since he is no longer around to create new work, it will not cease as his work will be available for years to come. Fans will continue to hear his music on the radio, remember his flamboyant character and performances, and cherish his talent.

Disney: A Force in Brand Monetization

After nearly a decade of silence, Star Wars is back. From drugstores to fast food restaurants to many types of retail outlets, Star Wars merchandise is everywhere. Cups, candy, action figures, Legos, games, clothing, and food are just a few of the products that sport Star Wars logos and characters. Not only is this merchandise everywhere, but it also targets nearly every age.

The Walt Disney Company (Disney) does a fantastic job of providing audiences what they want. Therefore, when it purchased the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion from Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney had a plan to make the franchise bigger than ever. When it comes to entertainment, Disney knows how to satisfy its audience. With its award-winning movies, creative products, and spectacular theme parks, Disney attracts customers of all ages. As a result, it is one of the most well-known companies around the world, bringing in a whopping $52 billion in 2015. With its Star Wars franchise purchase, this number may skyrocket.

But how does a company make an already successful franchise even bigger? Disney’s approach is to advertise the franchise early and aggressively to a wide audience range.

Disney began marketing the latest Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, more than a year before its debut. In November 2014, Disney teased its audience with the film’s trailer. It also began promoting the film via a plethora of merchandise, which was estimated to break $5 billion in its first year of the movie’s release. Disney also partnered with dozens of companies, expanding its exposure in territories outside the norm. For instance, Campbell’s marketed soup with noodles shaped like Star Warscharacters, CoverGirl developed a limited edition Star Wars makeup line, Duracell packaged batteries resembling movie characters, and FCA featured Stormtrooper-wrapped vehicles in its commercials promoting the film. These are just a few examples of how the Star Wars marketing approach is taking the Star Wars franchise to new, unprecedented levels.

While the Star Wars franchise has always been successful, Disney’s marketing efforts and promises of new outlets for the franchise helped break records with the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In fact, the movie reached more than $600 million faster than any other movie in history. It also broke pre-sale ticket sales of more than $50 million, a month before the debut. Along with aggressive marketing for the latest Star Wars film, Disney announced its plans for possible new Star Wars themed parks, a promise of a new Star Wars film every two to three years, and a potential television presence. With these promises and aggressive advertising techniques, it is likely Disney’s Star Wars franchise will remain one of the most valuable franchises for years to come.

McDonald’s Brand Struggle

McDonald’s is one of the most recognizable names in the world. Starting out as a simple hamburger joint, the chain now boasts more than 36,000 restaurants and serves approximately 69 million customers daily around the world. It has been tempting customers with Happy Meals, Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, and other favorites for over 60 years. Known for its fast service and low cost meals, McDonald’s often tops the list of most successful fast food restaurants. However, McDonald’s is now experiencing competition like it never has before.

For the first time in a decade, McDonald’s experienced a decline in sales in 2014. For 2015, the chain continued to struggle to increase sales. While the third quarter and fourth quarters of 2015 show a slight increase in sales, the chain faces continuing challenges of keeping up with its competition and the changing tastes of its customers.

For these reasons, McDonald’s has been experimenting with various menu changes. One of its most successful changes seems to be the all-day breakfast option. Also, to appease customers who worry about treating animals humanely, the company promises to switch to antibiotic-free chicken over the next two years and cage-free eggs over the next decade. In addition, the chain will focus on offering milk products that come from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormones.

In recent years, McDonald’s began to offer more café choices, in the hopes of attracting customers away from Starbucks. While McDonald’s café choices have become popular, the drinks take more time, costing the restaurant one of its most valued benefits: fast service. Further, focusing on its beverage offerings has not proved beneficial as many customers didn’t go to McDonald’s for their drinks in the first place. Therefore, the inevitable decline in sales is happening.

Along with some food and beverage changes, the chain has been changing its appearance. Its restaurants are being refurbished to look more attractive, contemporary, and inviting. By changing its appearance and offering Wi-Fi and higher-end products, the chain hopes to lure customers that normally do not go to the fast food restaurant.

Despite all of its changes, McDonald’s still struggles to keep up with new restaurants that offer more organic and fresher ingredients, such as Chipotle and Panera Bread. It is a challenge to keep the image and products that made the restaurant so popular in the first place, while trying to appeal to different generations. However, it is evident that McDonald’s is willing to try new things to find the happy medium.

Like all brands, no matter how popular, changes must take place in order to keep value. Brands must appeal to their audience and keep pace with consumer tastes. Otherwise, consumers become bored and dissatisfied, making the brand value decline. With McDonald’s willingness to make changes, it is likely the chain will regain a positive sales outcome. However, it could take some time. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see all of the new offerings and changes McDonald’s makes to get there.