The very first thing that stands out for me about Tesla, if you take out the genius of Elon Musk from the equation, is the business strategy they started with. I reviewed the strategy in my e-book, Business and Brand Modelling 101. Elon Musk played the long game with Tesla Motors. How???
Motivational speakers, and even business gurus, are quick to say that you do not really need to have it all figured out before starting. You can just get the basics right and kick off; you can figure out the rest along the way. Elon did not take this idea, he wanted something perfect for Tesla at the beginning, and he waited till he got it.
You see, in branding, how you start is actually important…especially if you want to put yourself out there as a premium brand. You can’t afford to come out with an average product. You need to come out strong. Apple is another brand that towed this line.
Of course, one disadvantage of starting strong, and with a premium product is that you are likely to incur heavy losses at that very beginning. People will question the heavy price points, and you may not even have economies of scale on your side too. But if you keep at it, maintain your product quality, get your branding right, and market your product with amazing copies; you will find yourself as your industry’s leader within a very short while. I mean, look at Apple and Tesla.
Yeah, back to Tesla.
Elon wasn’t even one of Tesla’s original founders. He was just one of the company’s major financial stakeholders, and he was the first Chairman of the company. He only took over as CEO in 2008 when the founders, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, gave up power (Tarpenning actually left the company). Tesla released its first car, the electric Roadster, that year – five years after the company was founded.
For a company that spends ZERO dollars on marketing, Tesla has really come a long way.
How did they do the magic?
First, Elon had a vision which he shared with the public even before the company released its first car. Using his personal brand, he got the public to believe in the plan, follow his progress, and buy the products just to see how the plan unfolds.
Secondly, Tesla does not sell vehicles via dealerships as other car brands do. They set up showrooms in malls where the entire public can see the cars and then put the innovation of each car on full display. Elon has always carried the public along right from the beginning, he personally replies to Twitter reviews and doesn’t waste time to address criticisms on social media. In fact, I believe it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the public was invested in the company’s growth.
Yesterday I was having a discussion with Elochukwu Favour, and she believed Tesla had more claims to the Outlaw Archetype than Virgin, and she isn’t wrong…Virgin has delved into a lot of things, breaking a lot of branding rules in the process, but Tesla’s different way of doing things (and their stronger brand) puts them a step ahead of the world’s most stretched brand.
…and there apparently isn’t anything to it. Elon and Tesla have shown us, that you can become the world’s fastest-growing brand with Innovation, Openness, Consistency, Guts, and a little Personality (Tesla owes a good part of its success to Elon’s personality).
Over to you… what can you pick from this story/review? Do you think Tesla would have gotten to its current position without the genius of Elon Musk? Do you want to know Tesla’s Master Plan Part 2?