Tesla, Tesla, Tesla: Building A Power Brand From Scratch

Feb 24 2014, 5:38pm CST | by

Do you remember the Brady Bunch episode when Jan complained that all everyone talked about was “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia?” Well, substitute BMW, Mercedes and Cadillac for Jan to Tesla’s Marcia and you have the brand of the year, decade and possibly century.

Hyperbole? Absolutely. But when you crush earnings, become the third biggest-selling luxury car behind only the Mercedes E Class and the BMW 5 Series, stoke Apple M&A rumors, boast a $25B valuation, have CEO Elon Musk named Fortune ’s man of the year (and the next Steve Jobs), get named one of Fast Compan y’s most innovative companies and incent Mercedes and BMW to launch Olympic-size ads featuring their defensive Tesla killers, the hyperbole may be well deserved.

Just this week, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote, “We believe we are witnessing the most disruptive intersection of manufacturing, innovation and capital experienced by the auto industry in more than a century. Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It’s not just cars.” The stock soared to over $200 this past week, gaining traction on Tesla’s 225-mile range even as Tesla deals with the ongoing effects of a handful of Model S fires and equipment “recalls.”

However, behind all of the news, there are some tremendous brand-building principles that all brands (large and small) should pay heed to. Whether intentional or not, Tesla is building a powerful new brand in unconventional ways in order to combat and align with the hyper-connected, over-saturated, chaotic, peer-influenced world we live in. Below, a few lessons to be learned:

Be clear on your purpose, bold on your promise

Tesla is less about a car than it is about a revolution; it’s a true disruptor in a category of incremental-ism and boredom. Elon Musk, like Jobs before him, wanted to change the way the world saw and used automobiles—much like he did with PayPal and is trying to do with the space program. Musk wanted to help do something about the environmental issues dogging the category and truly shift the frame of reference when we each think about buying our next car. Musk’s vision for making electric cars competitive in luxury and accessibility is bold, but it is hard to bet against him. Think about companies like Coke and Dove and Zappos: They all have a higher-order purpose beyond the products or services they are pitching. When you think about Coke and connections, Dove and empowerment, and Zappos and unconditional service, you would be wise to add Tesla and world-changing to that list.

Become famous, but let others do the talking for you

This one seems a little too obvious, but the amount of buzz Tesla has gotten over the last year has blown away any traditional mass-media “campaign” in recent memory. Of course, you have to start with a killer product. Tesla ranked above any other luxury brand in Consumer Reports magazine’s measurement of “brand perceptions” by American consumers, and Consumer Reports declared last year that Tesla was the best car it had ever tested when Model S owners gave the vehicle 99 points out of 100 possible in a survey.

Watch The Bachelor on ABC and get a firsthand glance of why Tesla is the new king in town. Check out any one of these Tesla communities that have been built. Tesla is one of the most posted, liked, followed, tweeted and buzz-worthy brands on the Internet, with a widely variant (but successful) engagement strategy. Think about newer brands such as the Cosmopolitan, Dollar Shave Club or AirBnB—powerful, category-changing brands that are being built on the backs of the communities and buzz they are generate…and earn.

Create an experience that “almost” outshines the product

Tesla’s real genius is its unique showrooms (most often found in somewhat ordinary shopping malls) with a magnetic appeal that draws in as many casual observers as they do serious car buyers. Most showrooms can only fit one Tesla, but imagine having thousands of people walking by your car every day—even the casual shopper picking up a pair of shoes at Clarkes is drawn in! If you haven’t visited a showroom yet, you need to. Much like the first time you walked into Nike Town or an Apple store, you’ll find that the attention to detail, the technology on display and the knowledge and insight (but lack of sales aggressiveness) you receive will disarm you. There is an Apple-like attention to detail in every aspect of the car (those M&A rumors didn’t appear out of thin air). From the door handles to the cup holders to the high-tech dash, to the unparalleled levels of customer service following the sale, every part of the experience oozes personalized, innovative technology. All this for a brand that just so happens to be doing good for the world.

Pervasively innovate, drive relevance, surprise and delight

When you try to launch the first large-scale automotive startup in decades and concurrently lead an electric car revolution, you may think that you’ve done enough innovation and relevance work for awhile. But Tesla continues to break barriers.  A perfect example of this is in Tesla’s door handle, mentioned above. Like Jobs’s obsession with getting the iPod’s scrolling wheel just right, Musk was equally obsessed with innovating the door handles from the norm to the totally unexpected. Tesla’s Model S senses when a driver is walking up to the car, and the door handle extends for an easy reach and open. Imagine the engineering nightmare of making that a reality, in all climates. Musk didn’t care, because he was creating a new-to-the-world experience. Like Google, which was just named Fast Company’s most innovative company of the year or Electrolux, which continues to push the boundaries of what we should expect from our appliances, Tesla continues to pervasively innovate, which drives relevance, which drives the brand.

Finally, in a move that deserves its own article, Musk recently announced his plans to build the world’s largest battery factory, which would conceivably cut down on costs while allowing the company to generate more revenue through selling batteries to other companies. Imagine an Intel-inside, Tesla-branded battery in your standard car. The real deal here is that Musk and Tesla envision lithium batteries beyond autos, storing solar electricity and ultimately solving electrical grid needs for cities. It all goes right back to Tesla’s true purpose.

Elon Musk is building an ecosystem where Tesla could literally influence the entire automotive industry and win all the battles across all of the classes of cars. As I type, Tesla engineers are working on Tesla’s Model X, an affordable electric vehicle at half the price tag of the Model S.

Maybe Jan should just let Marcia have all the glory and be happy she wasn’t forgotten altogether.

Source: Forbes Apple

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Apple and GT Part Ways
Apple and GT Part Ways
The Cupertino company has parted ways with their sapphire provider
 
 
Apple Turns To Crowdsourcing For Maps
Apple Turns To Crowdsourcing For Maps
The company is working hard to improve their Maps App
 
 
Apple’s Mac Sales Are Back
Apple’s Mac Sales Are Back
Their recent earnings show that computers are coming back
 
 
Cook Talks to the Chinese Authority on the Security of User Data on iCloud
Cook Talks to the Chinese Authority on the Security of User Data on iCloud
The Apple CEO has a conversation with the high Chinese officials regarding the iCloud user data security threat
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Second MERS case reported in Qatar
Doha, Oct 23 (IANS) A 43-year-old man in Qatar has tested positive for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the second confirmed case of the deadly virus in 10 days, media reported Thursday. The patient had...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Two people die in Pakistan bomb blast
Islamabad, Oct 23 (IANS) At least two people were killed and 12 others injured in an explosion that took place in Pakistan's Balochistan province Thursday, media reported. The bomb was planted on a motorcycle, Dawn...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Trott extends contract with Warwickshire till 2017
London, Oct 23 (IANS) England batsman Jonathan Trott, whose mental issues led to his abrupt departure from last winter's Ashes tour, has confirmed his successful comeback to competitive cricket by signing a new three-...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Srikanth, Kashyap big movers in BWF rankings
Kuala Lumpur, Oct 23 (IANS) Indian men shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap jumped seven places each in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings released Thursday while Olympic bronze medallist...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Alvin Stardust dead
London, Oct 23 (IANS) English singer Alvin Stardust died after a short illness. He was 72. Stardust's manager confirmed the news about his demise Thursday, reports mirror.co.uk. He was recently diagnosed with...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Indian man reunited with family after 40 years
Dubai, Oct 23 (IANS) An Indian man, who had disappeared from his hometown in Kerala nearly 40 years ago, has been found by his family at a hospital in Dubai in the UAE, a newspaper report said. Now in his 60s, Abdulla...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Srikanth, Kashyap, Saina rise in world rankings
Kala Lumpur, Oct 23 (IANS) Indian men shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap jumped seven places each in the latest released Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings Thursday while Olympic bronze medallist...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Flintoff signs for Big Bash side Brisbane Heat
Brisbane, Oct 23 (IANS) Former England captain and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who retired from international cricket in 2009, Wednesday confirmed that he will play for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League (BBL) this...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
OPEC daily basket price falls again
Vienna, Oct 23 (IANS/WAM) The basket of 12 crude oils of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) closed at $81.94 a barrel Wednesday compared to $82.09 Tuesday, the OPEC Secretariat said. The new OPEC...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Lopez to sign multi-million dollar deal?
Los Angeles, Oct 23 (IANS) Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez is reportedly in the final stages of securing a multi-million dollar deal to perform in Las Vegas. The 45-year-old is being offered $350,000 per show at The...
Read more on Celebrity Balla