Elon Musk crazy marketing strategy of his personal brand worth $250B (10 min read)
Elon Musk - a brand by himself. Owning a few large companies, most of which are high-tech, he is one of the richest people in the world nowadays, with his net worth valued at nearly $250 billion as of February 2022.
Elon Musk in a nutshell:
Strategy & Tools
Elon Musk Marketing History Timeline
I'll highlight here most of Elon's marketing episodes, not correlated to his business (most of them), and not including his tweets:
- 1996-1999 - Elon Musk’s first company (co-founded with his brother, Kimbal Musk), Zip2, made Elon a millionaire, ready for more challenges.
- February 2004 - Musk invested $6.5 million in Tesla and became the company’s majority shareholder (and joined their board of directors as chairman).
- 2010 - Small cameo as himself in Iron Man 2 movie.
- January 2015 - Guest appearance playing as himself in The Simpsons in the episode titled "The Musk Who Fell to Earth."
- November 2015 - Guest appearance in the episode of The Big Bang Theory
- 2016 - Guest appearance in several episodes of South Park, including the episode "Members Only"
- November 2017 - Guest appearance in The Big Bang Theory spin-off prequel series Young Sheldon
- February 6, 2018 - Elon launched a car (Tesla Roadster) into space along with his first Falcon Heavy rocket
- September 7, 2018 - Smoked weed while being on the Joe Rogan podcast
- February 2019 - Musk co-hosted PewDiePie's (Youtuber) show "Meme Review" with Justin Roiland (Rick and Morty's co-creator)
- April 2019 - Elon produced and rapped the song
- October 2019 - Guest appearance in the Rick and Morty episode as an alternate reality version of himself with tusks, known as "Elon Tusk"
- May 5, 2020 - He named his newborn kid "X Æ A-12 Musk"
- April-November 2021 - Elon Musk’s activity on his Twitter account caused a large surge of Shiba Inu cryptocurrency, after the entrepreneur (by frequent tweeting and quite unintentionally) did a similar thing to Dogecoin some time earlier
Elon Musk Twitter activity
Elon Musk's Twitter account is a perfect mixture of the inspiring tech entrepreneur, controversial man-child, internet troll, and meme page - many adult men's wildest dreams.
His tweets are painfully authentic #nofilter, which builds up to the personal brand of Elon Musk.
To prove his level of authenticity and "not give a f**k" approach to his tweeting, he has wiped off $14 billion from Tesla's value with one tweet.
Even though his tweets might sometimes hurt the value of his companies, in the long run, it's worth it. Elon plays the long game.
Elon Musk Guest appearances/cameos
Superhero movies (Iron Man), geeky sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory), or cartoon comedies for adults (Rick and Morty), that all fit the personal brand of Elon Musk and his character, make his fans connect with him on a deeper level and love him even more.
*Iron Man movie character was inspired by Elon Musk.
Cool ventures and companies owned by Elon Musk
People don't value Elon Musk because he's controversial and loves memes. People worship him because he's one of the most ambitious, hard-working, futuristic guys on the planet and because he loves memes. The personal brand of Elon Musk stands firm with those factors.
There is no Elon Musk without his ambitious business ventures and sometimes meme-like products:
Zip2 – a thing of the past which made Musk a millionaire before 2000 (an online business directory with maps when online search with Google Maps hasn't been functional yet).
X. com – founded in 1999, was the beginning of Musk's “adventures” with the PayPal Mafia later on.
PayPal – a long story of online financial services that still continues up to this day.
Space X – a company which constructs rockets and aim to literally shoot for the moon (the effect of Musk's fund-raising after getting successful with PayPal) with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and colonization of Mars.
Tesla - an American electric vehicle and clean energy company, with the goal to create affordable mass-market electric vehicles, and with Musk on board, the company no longer produces only electric cars, but also builds power storage devices:
Neuralink - a neurotechnology start-up company, with the goal to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence.
Solar City – Tesla took over Solar City in November 2016 to have control over the industry branch of solar panels and solar roof tiles. The goal is to reduce the costs and improve reliability and functionality of solar energy
Boring company - one of the Elon Musk’s latest investments that started as a Tweeted joke - a tunnel construction services company, with the goal of reducing traffic jams, aiming at building a network of underground tunnels in the USA to make ultra-fast and collision-free traffic possible for its users. By 2020, The Boring Company has finished two of their underground tunnels. Their plans concern the underground areas of Las Vegas, Hawthorne, Baltimore, and others
Hyperloop - concept for a high-speed train like transportation system incorporating reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion.
Boring Company's Flamethrower - started as a meme, ended up selling the whole stock within 2 days.
OpenAI - a not-for-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company.
There's also another reason why people love those companies so much. Every single one of them has a very good reason to exist.
While for most of those ventures the main goal to exist is to improve people's lives, for others (flamethrower) is just for the joke's sake. This playful, almost game-like approach to building businesses and products makes Elon even more likable.
Tesla marketing budget
What's interesting about Elon Musk's Tesla is that the company's marketing budget is basically $0.
It may be weird when we think about the Tesla annual revenue of more than $53.8 billion in 2021, which is quite an increase from $31 billion of 2020.
This is possible because of the personal brand of Elon Musk. Tesla's ads are nowhere to be seen in mass media, and yet the company totally dominates the automotive industry.
Tesla annual revenue comes from the number of cars sold, which has reached a number of more than 900,000 vehicles.
Right after Facebook, Tesla is the second company in the world to reach $1 trillion net worth when looking at how fast they did it. It took them something above 12 years since Tesla’s first public offering in 2010. For Facebook, it was 9 years. Google, Apple, and Amazon were even slower.
Personal brand of Elon Musk
World-changing visionary, work ethic titan, meme enthusiast, geek, and eccentric billionaire. That's who Elon Musk is. Or at least that's how the personal brand of Elon Musk is built.
People have fallen in love with the creator and the reason for companies being created. Later on, they have also fallen in love with the products.
He's perceived as credible and reliable because authenticity + integrity = credibility.
Elon Musk and dogecoin
The power of Elon Musk's actions was visible in the case of cryptocurrencies called doge coin and shiba inu.
As for Elon Musk and dogecoin, he made that cryptocurrency skyrocketed after he announced that Tesla started to accept payments in dogecoin. In December 2021, after one Musk's tweet, dogecoin rose by a huge percentage in value (a few hundreds), but the experts are not clear about that.
A similar situation was with another cryptocurrency. Shiba Inu was created in the second half of 2021, and it was said to be a rival for dogecoin (although Shiba Inu is a token as it has been created on an already-existing blockchain). Musk has been tweeting a lot about Shiba Inu, which showed his interest in that cryptocurrency. It has also made it rise by as much as nearly 141,695% in the period between April and November 2021.
Elon Musk controversies
As with most of popular and rich people, Elon Musk is not free from controversies about his actions.
.Another thing is Elon Musk's shitposts which he publishes quite often on his Twitter. His tweets are short, but they convey quite a lot of meaning, and that meaning is not always… “appropriate.” His controversial thinking has been widely known to other Twitter users, too.
Elon is known for his shitposts on his Twitter account. Despite his position and fortune, his child-like attitude to the world frequently shows itself in his Twitter statements.
This has become a meme to the extent, in which a web-based quiz concerning Musk’s shitposts has been created. The quiz includes a few of Elon’s authentic tweets, some of which are hard to believe.
Some controversies and “shitposting” in his tweets touches upon smoking marijuana, COVID-19 pandemic, and even his son (he tweeted about his extraordinary name without any further details).
How much does Elon Musk make a second?
There is a web-based simulator which estimates how much money Elon Musks earn a minute, and that's about $22,5 k. When we divide it into 60 seconds, we get something like $375 per second.
Controversy = free publicity. Controversy in marketing is tricky. If done correctly, it can be a great way to get you noticed. However, if it backfires, it can do more harm than good.
Whether Elon smokes weed on a podcast, sells flamethrowers, raps a song, or launch a car into space, people go wild - when you do this kind of things, you don't need ads to sell your products.
If you want to be recognizable, you can’t play it safe. Elon understands that.
People who are known to be good at something or possess some visibly positive features, tend to be perceived and judged as more reliable, professional, and successful.
This is the situation of how Elon Musk is perceived in the business world and by his followers. His fortune and numerous successes made him a god-like figure, who can change the course of the world with one snap of his fingers.
We connect with other people by being authentic and vulnerable. We judge a person's authenticity by the passion and commitment they have for what they say and do.
People connect with Musk because he's true to himself, authentic and committed to his goals.
Elon Musk is controversial, but it's often quite funny. Some people make jokes and memes on the basis of Musk's tweets and statements, where he showed himself as a controversial individual.
People tend to follow Elon Musk because of his strong will and leadership skills. Some people seek their “shepherd.” They need someone to lead them, guide them.
Elon Musk seems to be reliable, so many of his followers support his opinions quite eagerly and without any deeper thinking.
Many people quote Elon. Some of his thoughts get viral and cause global phenomena. All of that because of social proof.
When something is supported and talked about by larger groups of people, that hype builds on exponentially – the more folks discuss some topic, the greater the surrounding buzz, and the greater the interest from various sides.
The more someone thinks they're good at something, the higher their chances of being successful.
We can't be really sure how much of Elon we get to know from his ventures and Internet activities. The person we see is an entrepreneur and a great genius. However, it's quite possible that he only presents himself as such a person, but in fact, he could be simply lucky enough to succeed in many fields.
The higher his self-confidence, the higher his chances to succeed with his plans to revolutionize the world of technology. So far, he's doing fine, so it seems to be working!
Window of Opportunity
Use personal branding to build & boost your business. Create your personal brand on Twitter, Instagram, or other social media platform that works best for you.
The best personal brands strategies:
- Build your authority and credibility
- Give away great content for free
- Focus on a very specific area of expertise
- Be transparent, vulnerable, and trustworthy
- Be consistent
Which brand archetype do you want to be?
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