The multi-sensory experience design of a Harley

The multi-sensory experience design of a Harley


Part of MEX Inspirations, an ongoing series exploring tangents and their relationship to better experience design.

When asked about Harley Davidson’s enduring appeal, the great grandson of the company’s co-founder uses a vocabulary which suggests he truly understands long-term customer experience results from a multi-sensory feeling rather than a specific product:

“Very early on they created a unique look, a unique sound and they created a unique feel…it’s a magnet, it pulls you in…when people see a Harley…even if they don’t ride…they will say ‘nice Harley’.” — Bill Davidson

I’m not a biker personally. I’d even go so far as to say I’m not especially keen on the noise and dangers of motorbikes.

However, when I heard this story in the BBC series ‘Great American Railroad Journeys’, it resonated with me because of the sense of heritage and brand experience expressed by Bill Davidson, whose great grandfather William A. Davidson co-founded the company in a shed located a stones’ throw from where they’re still based today in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In conversation with the show’s presenter Michael Portillo, Davidson goes on to expand on the important connection with a rebellious spirit and the sense of the open road winding across America. These are experiential values which the company can continue to encapsulate in its products and that will outlast any technology.

From series 2, episode 15 of ‘Great America Railroad Journeys‘ on the BBC

Part of MEX Inspirations, an ongoing series exploring tangents and their relationship to better experience design.