Ten years ago, I went to my first Harley fest in Milwaukee as a student at Marquette.  It happened to be Harley’s 100th Anniversary.  Not really growing up among Harley riders, it was my first true experience with the Harley culture …and I fell in love with it.

So in love with it, I ended up working at Harley’s corporate office a few months later.  I took some law school friends from Minnesota to the 105th and saw Springsteen (he put on a 4 hour concert), and they fell in love with it.  And last weekend, I went to the 110th, and fell in love again.  And I don’t even own a bike.

There’s something about Harley-Davidson.  That sound.  The gear.  The customized bikes.  The conversations with another rider at a stop light, or at a dive bar.  The waves exchanged between passing riders on their bikes.  The wind through your hair.  The open road.  The freedom.  What other brand can bring thousands of people from all over the world “home” for a weekend?  This guy below brought his bike from Jakarta, Indonesia – to Milwaukee.

Harley is a merchandising machine, but the Harley brand really embodies one virtue: freedom.  Their official gear from the weekend used the following logo:

We talk a lot about non-traditional trademarks, but there’s something special about the Harley brand and its trade dress.  Harley is one of the few if any brands that not only acts as a source identifier for a good or service – but a feeling.

And it all started with a stamping of a trademark on the gas tank of a motorcycle.  Where can your brand take you?