Following calls that Tesla Motors brand was too luxe to consider producing an electric truck, Elon Musk went on Twitter with “I hate the whole idea of brands and branding.”
Being dubbed as the world’s first “Influencer CEO”, it was a surprise to many since Musk has embraced strategic branding tactics – and doing very well at it too.
How is he good at it?
Well, here are the 3 lesson we can learn from Elon Musk about branding.
1. Stick to the mission.
Elon Musk insisted his business decisions by stating his main focus is the relentless pursuit of developing technology for the good of humanity.
Once, Musk even maintained his “mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy, which is important for all life on Earth.”
Musk had to make touch calls including firing colleagues and prioritizing projects over contracted commitments.
Despite the occasional tweet-storm, or tantrum, he has achieved icon status among general public particularly from the Milennial generation.
He achieved this due to his consistent statements on renewable energy and investing in the future world. Elon Musk managed to make the industry ‘cool’.
In a nutshell, he has the vision and mission which he commands his company(s) to pursue relentless, sticks to it even when it ‘bites’ his credibility; and earned loyal followers who appreciate the dedication.
2. Know when to apologize.
“It takes years to build trust, and a single blunder to lose it all.”
Reputation is difficult to build and doesn’t get easier to maintain. It’s all about timing.
As an executive decision maker, you must learn the importance of owning up to your mistakes and the right way to do it.
Let’s take Musk’s as an example. In a conference call, Mr Musk became impatient, and probably annoyed, with two Wall Street analysts and berated them for their “boring, bonehead questions.” Tesla shares dropped quickly after.
For the next meeting, Elon Musk quickly tried different approach when describing the company outlook and profitability predictions.
He even gave a sincere apology for what was said to the analysts – admitting he was wrong.
As a result, Tesla shares surged and made almost $5 billion dollars worth to its stock value. It was dubbed as “the most valuable apology of all time.“
3. Don’t chase the popular vote.
Musk didn’t become the most inspirational leader by winning the “popular vote.”
Unlike most CEOs, Musk has little regard for political, legal or financial consequences to his companies by sticking to what he believes in.
For instance, Musk tried to pioneer the ‘green’ car company Tesla despite calls by big players in the auto industry how it will be a ‘fluke’ and the resulting failure could cost billions of dollars.
Let’s face it, before Musk came into the scene, electric cars weren’t so attractive to the general consumers. It wasn’t only unappealing. It lacked battery life, recharging issues, low distance travel and so on. The idea of electric cars replacing the conventional ones seem too far fetched.
When Musk came in, he changed the scene. The car wasn’t only practical, but it looks sleek. With it, the car comes with ‘perfect’ crash tests which no other car makers achieved.
He turned an unpopular idea into mainstream success.
My Final Two Cent
Despite of his successes, Musk isn’t done yet.
He continues to hype up his companies’ potential to disrupt almost every major industry.
By consistently investing in sustainable technology and leveraging all platforms to spread his philosophy, Elon Musk has become one of the most important business and innovation leaders for the past decade – and perhaps for more to come.
In my view, he is the most important human being right now – in aspects developing the future for human race. And if you haven’t noticed, I am an admirer of Elon Musk’s philosophies and work ethics.
Other CEOs are strongly advised to revise their own brand-messaging strategies. Start doing the right thing – and the general masses will follow.