Whether you are a Harley owner or not, this is the logo you recognize at the first glance. Harley-Davidson – a brand representing freedom, energy, and elegance at the same time, does this through its logo the first place. The brand with its 125th anniversary right around the corner has a long history of the development of your favorite logo. Get ready to delve into the fascinating world of the Harley-Davidson Logo History. Our article offers an in-depth exploration of this iconic emblem’s evolution from 1903 to 2023, revealing its significance as a symbol of American motorcycle culture.
Harley Davidson Brand
William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson, Walter Davidson, William A. Davidson
|Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Harley Davidson is a motorcycle company founded by four entrepreneurs: William Sylvester Harley and the three Davidson brothers. In 1903, the company released its first motorcycle after previous attempts to create a motorbike were not successful. Their initial factory was a small wooden shed in the Davidson family’s backyard. By 1908, they were able to sell a motorcycle to the Detroit police department. And by 1918, the US military had purchased half of the company’s vehicles
The Harley Davidson logo, featuring the company’s name within it, has been a core part of the company’s brand recognition since its establishment in 1903. The first version of the iconic “Bar and Shield” logo was created in 1910. The logo has undergone several updates throughout the years, but it has always maintained its classic and recognizable design. The logo is an iconic symbol of the Harley-Davidson brand, known for its durability, strength, and freedom, and it has played a significant role in building the company’s reputation and brand recognition. Today, the logo is synonymous with the Harley Davidson brand, and it can be found on Harley Davidson motorcycles, clothing, and accessories
1910 : First Logo
The initial Harley Davidson logo was reportedly designed by Janet Davidson. She was working for her uncle Alexander McNab in a lingerie store and utilized her artistic skills to create unique monograms for high-quality textiles. Janet enjoyed this task so much that she created a badge for Harley Davidson, and she applied it to motorcycles, adorning each tank and fender with the design. Janet was proud to assist her brothers and contribute to the realization of their aspirations.
On this 1910 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, and elongated. On the outermost strip, “TRADE” (left) and “MARK” (right) are indicated in small print. The shield shows MOTOR and CYCLES from upward to down. This logo was the beginning of the brand’s long-standing bar and shield combination. This emblem was surprisingly simple compared to some old-fashioned logos. The reason of its simplicity was simple and practical: The technology available for creating vehicle emblems was limited at the time. If the design of the Harley Davidson motorcycle logo was overly complicated, it would not have been practical to produce.
1934 : Winged Logo
The old Harley Davidson logo stayed in place for several years, until 1934, when a new winged version of the logo appeared. This alternative emblem missed the shield and bar image most customers are familiar with today and embraced a more common “retro-style” vehicle badge.
Two years later, with the creation of the new Knucklehead engine, a new version of the Harley-Davidson logo was designed. It was used until 1940 only, but similar ideas can be noticed in some recent models. In 1940 the first metal logo was created. Simple, minimalistic lettering was surrounded with a metal “drop,” representing the concept of speed.
1953 : 50 Years Anniversary
In 1929, Harley Davidson came up with a V-shaped engine. The new engine was such a massive hit that it was in use until 1972, going through a few modernization stages. To celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1953, the company decided to come up with a new logo version, in honor of its V-shaped engine, which brought record success to the firm.
The letter “V” on the memorial logo signifies the V-twin engine. This version of the Harley Davidson logo was seen on motorcycle front fenders in 1954. The emblem was designed inside a circle, with the V outside its bounds. Located in the upper section of the shield was an inscription “Harley Davidson,” “50 Years”, as well as “American Made.”
1965 : Modern Harley Davidson Logo
The most recognizable and well-known Harley Davidson logo was launched in 1965, which closely resembled the current logo with the same bar and shield design, but in a more contemporary form. This version is considered the standard, but each Harley Davidson location can have its unique logo. The version from 1965 is considered iconic, with bold letters, thick borders, and the original black-and-white color scheme. This logo is used today by the company on manufactured motorcycles.
An interesting trait of this logo, as one of the HD family member notices is that T and CL create upward and downward arrows on the shield:
2003 : Harley Davidson – 100
This is the major design Harley Davidson uses up to nowadays but HD has a tradition of issuing special logos for anniversaries.
To celebrate Harley Davidson’s 100 years of existence in 2003, the company introduced a new logo design. It consisted of the same shield and bar, with wings placed around them. On either side of the wings, the dates 1903 (The year of the company’s founding) and 2003 (The year of the company’s 100th anniversary) were placed. There was a figure, 100, under the shield and bar. The winged logo is a reflection of freedom and speed, the brand’s power and influence. It is a strong and outstanding work, which represents Harley-Davidson history and heritage. This is one of the most common Harley-Davidson logos, and it appears on the company’s motorcycles and related accessories.
2008: 105th Harley Davidson Anniversary Logo
The brand was very happy with how the previous logo worked and decided to create a new one in 2008, to mark 105 years of Harley-Davidson. All the elements from the 2003 logo remained but were modified. The Bar and Shield emblem was still in the center of the composition, but now it was enclosed in a circle and two wings, this time curved upwards.
The “105 years” lettering is placed above the Harley-Davidson iconic emblem, forming a kind of crown. The dates “1903 — 2008” are placed on the bottom part of the frame and use a star to separate the numbers.
Harley-Davidson’s 120th Anniversary
Harley Davidson is celebrating its 120th birthday this year and whether they’ll present another anniversary logo or not is unknown but they have already announced a big celebration party and special 120th Anniversary Collection
However, it is already known that HD is planning a major change in its logo for 2025. It is based on a traditional Bar and Shield Emblem but is more minimalistic and clean.
The brand also created a wordmark-based logo, which will be used on the fashion and accessories lines of the company’s retail products. The iconic black-white-orange color palette remains, but the typeface is simplified.
The classic orange Harley-Davidson Motorcycles logo remains, but will move into the category of “historical logos” of the brand. This logo will be used solely as a tribute to the company’s more than centuries-old history. The manufacturer does not plan to completely abandon this logo, but its use will be limited, with a historical context or products and accessories related to the brand’s heritage.
Harley Davidson – Unforgettable Brand
Although the logo has and is going to undergo major changes, there are a few things that remain consistent about the Harley Davidson logos no matter what: Emblem – even in the minimalistic future design, the shield and the bar is still here. Colors – There have been various versions of the Harley Davidson color scheme over the years, including black and white options, as well as metallic designs (chrome). The current black and orange theme perfectly demonstrates the spirit of the brand, combining fun with strength and power.
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The color as well as the characteristic font makes the logo memorable. The font used for the logo is The Block Gothic RR Bold ExtraCond which later became a Harley Davidson font. This font was designed by Steve Jackaman and published by Red Rooster Collection.
That is exactly why Harley Davidson is unforgettable and why I love it so much. Harley Davidson is more than a brand, it is a culture. A special Harley Owners Group (HOG) even have its own logo which is very different from the original Harley Davidson logo.
HD family does not only unite owners of the Harley. It’s been a long time since Harley Davidson is not just a Motorcycle company. It has become a culture, uniting millions of people all around the world. This feeling of belonging to the family can be expressed not only in bikes but also in wearing clothes, accessories, and footwear by Harley Davidson. You are still a member of a gang even if you don’t drive a V-motored Harley on a highway in the USA.
The iconic logo of Harley Davidson has become an inspiration for many artists from the Harley-Davidson family. There are lots of different residing of the well-known orange and white Bar and Shield logo, either as graphic or even as a tattoo. Here I have chosen some of my favorites:
Bruce was born in Atlanta. He started riding motorcycles when he was 10 and has been passionate about them since. Bruce says he feels absolute freedom when he’s on two wheels. He prefers riding his bike slowly and smoothly along a country road and hardly ever enjoys wildly speedy rides. With a strong Ducati Multistrada 1200 in the current stable, Bruce enjoys his super powerful, comfortable and easy rides. Ducati Diavel is the beast he’s currently dreaming about…