When people think of motorcycles, one of the first things they imagine is the iconic Harley Davidson logo. Harley Davidson was founded in a shed back in 1903, and it is now one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers worldwide. They are known for their bulky yet highly customizable motorcycles that contain powerful engines.
The combination of bold black and orange with the geometric shape of the logo creates a logo as powerful and interesting as the company’s signature bicycles. To find out more about the history and design of Harley Davidson’s logo, all you need to do is keep reading.
Harley Davidson Logo Design Elements
The Harley Davidson logo is referred to as the “Bar and Shield” by the company due to its two major design elements. A long, horizontal bar is placed over the middle of a shield that has curved sides and a peaked top and bottom. Both the bar and the shield have a black background surrounded by an orange stripe that is surrounded by a black stripe of equal width.
The middle bar on the logo says “Harley-Davidson” in white letters. At the top area of the shield above the bar, the logo says “Motor” in orange letters. The bottom portion of the logo below the shield says either “Company” or “Cycles” in orange letters depending on where the logo is being used. All of these words are written in a capitalized, san-serif font with uniform stroke weights. The “motor cycle” part of the logo is skewed to fit the shield.
Changes and Evolution
Harley Davidson’s first logo bears remarkable similarities to the modern logo. The only big differences are that it had straighter sides on the shield and a white line around the bar. For some time in the mid 1900s, Harley tried out other logo shapes. The brand name was written on a horizontal bar that topped a circular symbol with stars and a set of flattened wings trailing behind it. Another brief change was a version with an eagle on top of it and a version with a star to the left of the brand name. However, none of these took off, so Harley Davidson went back to their classic symbol.
Most of the Harley Davidson’s logos have used a combination of orange, black, and white. Originally, the logo had orange lettering on a white background for the shield and white lettering on a black background for the bar. The placement of the colors was later tweaked, but the company still uses the classic color symbols. Black conveys the power of the motorcycles while orange adds a little excitement, so it is definitely a wise color choice.
Though Harley Davidson experimented with a few script fonts when they kept changing up their logo, these fonts were very rare. Most Harley Davidson logos have used the classic, blocky san serif fonts.
Harley Davidson’s modern logo is directly inspired by the brand’s first logo that was patented all the way back in 1911. This logo was made so long ago that much of the inspiration behind it was lost. The shield symbol seems to come from a desire to show the strength of the motorcycles. According to one company legend, they use orange because it matches the faded red door of one of the company founder’s machinery shed. Another option for the reason behind this color choice may be that the racing riders used bright orange and black uniforms at the time.
- Harley Davidson gets its name from William Harley, who made an engine that could be mounted on a normal bike, and his childhood friend, Arthur Davidson, who helped sell them.
- Harley Davidson’s logo is so iconic that it appears on random non-motorcycle items like coffee, bed sheets, and coffee mugs.
- For a brief time, Harley Davidson attempted to sell both bicycles and motorcycles, but bicycles with the Harley Davidson logo were too pricey to appeal to the average consumer.
- Harley Davidson only made eight motorcycles in their first year of business.
Harley Davidson’s logo has existed since 1903, and it seems like it will continue to be around for quite a while. Despite attempts to change it, the company has always ended up returning to their Bar and Shield logo because it is so popular among fans. The Harley Davidson logo might be particularly loved by bikers, but even those without a motorcycle may own a piece of memorabilia with this logo on it.