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PERSONAL BRANDING

Have Elon Musk’s ongoing antics become a negative for the Tesla brand?

By our News Team | 2022

He made Tesla a household name. But a tangled private life, provocative comments and the Twitter no-deal may be taking a toll on the brand.

By making Tesla and himself so synonymous with one another, Elon Musk has put the company’s increasingly valuable brand at risk. This is according to a recent report by news agency Bloomberg, which says the CEO’s public persona – once a big asset – is increasingly a liability in the electric vehicle (EV) supremacy race.

The news agency acknowledges that Musk’s star power, built in no small part by his activity on Twitter — the same forum where he’s become such a lightning rod — has contributed immensely to Tesla, especially since it’s shunned traditional advertising

Personal Branding

Photo by Steve Jurvetson via Wikipedia

“His steady stream of online banter, punctuated with the occasional grandiose announcement or stunt keeps Tesla in the headlines. During the company’s earlier days, the trolling and glib comments were a feature, not a bug. They allowed Musk to shape media coverage and made him the ringleader for Tesla’s legion of very-online fans,” Bloomberg notes.

Musk and Tesla synonymous with each other

“But after making Tesla and himself so synonymous with one another, Musk has waded into political conflicts, attempted to buy one of the world’s most influential social media platforms and struggled to bat back unflattering coverage of his personal life, putting the company’s increasingly valuable brand at risk.”

According to the news report, Creative Strategies – a California-based customer-experience measurer – mentioned owner frustration with Musk in a study it published in April. A year earlier, research firm Escalent found Musk was the most negative aspect of the Tesla brand among electric-vehicle owners surveyed.

“We hear from Tesla owners who will say, ‘Look, I love my vehicle, but I really wish I didn’t have to respond to my friends and family about his latest tweet,’” said Mike Dovorany, who spoke with thousands of EV owners and potential buyers during his two years working in Escalent’s automotive and mobility group.

Janine Hills, Founder and CEO of Africa-based communications agency, Authentic Leadership, calls it “a classic example of a brand being built around a person”.  

She writes in a LinkedIn post: “Leadership within an organisation is vital; not a person but rather a team of professionals. Limit the risk; share the messages and the stage.”



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