Harley Davidson is a motorcycle company founded by four entrepreneurs: William Sylvester Harley and three Davidson brothers. In 1903, after unsuccessful experiments with a motorbike, they presented their debut motorcycle. Their first plant was a small wooden shed in the Davidson backyard. In 1908, enthusiasts managed to sell a bike to the Detroit police. And by 1918, the US military had bought half of the company’s vehicles.
Meaning and History
Although the company was founded in 1903, the Harley Davidson logo appeared several years later: according to one version, in 2009, according to another, in 1910. The brand name immediately became familiar in race and endurance tests: motorcycles took seven first places.
Janet Davidson invented the famous design. She worked for Uncle Alexander McNab in a lingerie store and used her artistic talent to create original monograms for fine textiles. She loved the activity so much that Janet made a badge for Harley Davidson; she applied it to motorcycles, decorating every tank and fender with a pattern. The elder sister was proud to help her brothers and have a hand in making their dreams come true.
This logo has been in use for over a hundred years. It was officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1982. In addition to it, there were temporary trademarks dedicated to anniversary dates. In 1953, when the first Harley Davidson motorcycle turned 50, the company celebrated the occasion with a new emblem. The design was carefully thought out: the letter “V” denoted the type of engine, and the medallion version liked the owners of the company so much that they decided to leave it on the front fenders of all 1954 bikes.
In 1976 for the US Bicentennial, artist Paul Smith redesigned the branding with an eagle’s addition. This variant first appeared on Liberty Edition models. In 1978, on the 75th anniversary of Harley Davidson, another logo was created, but it only featured on souvenir merchandise. A little later, the executives realized the advertising potential of the emblems, and for each fifth anniversary after 1978, they began to produce a special series of motorcycles with anniversary signs.
1910 – 1953
On those years’ logo, the phrase “Harley-Davidson” is written through a hyphen and placed in the very center of the brand name. It is in a double-edged rectangle around the perimeter. The letters are white, narrow, elongated. On the outermost strip, “TRADE” (left) and “MARK” (right) are indicated in small print.
A horizontal figure divides two-piece triangles into two halves, resembling shields. The topmost of them is the word “MOTOR” at the bottom – “CYCLES.” The letters have different sizes: in the middle, they are large, along the edges are small, so the words look like pyramids. Triangles are like direction signs.
1953 – 1980
In 1953, an anniversary emblem appeared, which the administration liked so much that it decided to use it instead of the main one. In the center is a horizontal rectangle with the word “Harley-Davidson.” It resembles handwritten text and is made by a casual script with imitation of engraving. The letters are connected, semi-cursive.
The background of the rectangle is the Latin “V,” which denotes a type of engine. There is a shield indicating the brand’s age – “50 years” in the upper part. In a sharp triangle formed by the “V” sign, the inscription “AMERICAN MADE” is placed in two rows. All elements are drawn in a circle, which makes the logo look like a medal.
1980 – today
The current version is almost identical to the debut version. The only difference is in the figured design of the shield corners and the more compact arrangement of letters in the central inscription.
Font and Color of the Emblem
The first symbol, invented by Janet Davidson, is called the Bar-and-Shield because it consists of a figured shield divided in the middle by a horizontal bar. Above is the inscription “MOTOR,” below – “CYCLES” (sometimes “COMPANY”), in the middle – “HARLEY-DAVIDSON.” This version is considered standard, but each company office has its unique logo. The version created in 1965 is recognized as a cult one. It differs from the classic in bold letters, wide frames, and black and white color scheme (original).
In 2019, the manufacturer announced a global redesign, announcing that the first motorcycles with the new badges will go on sale in 2020. The styling change will be phased, with the visual concept expected to change by 2025 so fans can get used to the new brand image. … The former symbol remains but as a tribute to a bygone era. It will continue to be used in the context of the company’s heritage.
The designers of the modern emblem retained the Bar-and-Shield shape, also known as the Shield and Strip. It is a figured heraldic shield, divided in two by a horizontal rectangle. The new version conveys the modern style of Harley Davidson. The angles and proportions have changed slightly, and the lines have become slightly thinner.
The classic logo contains orange lettering “MOTOR,” “CYCLES” (“COMPANY”), and white “HARLEY-DAVIDSON.” For the text on the shield, an individual font is used: the letters in the word “MOTOR” are stretched upward, and in “CYCLES” – downward, in the shape of the frame. The name of the company is executed in the standard bold grotesque. The background color is black.
The new, minimalistic emblem has gone without inscriptions. There is not much variety in the palette either: the monochrome version of the Bar-and-Shield is presented in black and white.