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Elon Musk Created the Most Exciting Technology Brand in 2013: but it’s really a Car Company

Elon Musk Created the Most Exciting Technology Brand in 2013: but it’s really a Car Company
08/14/13
by Garrett Fonda and Jake Sedlock
Elon Musk has been making a lot of noise recently with his announcement of the Hyperloop. In theory, this pneumatically powered tube will be able to take passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco at up to 800 MPH, cutting travel time down from 5 and a half hours to 35 minutes.

The plan may sound like something out of the Jetsons, but for Musk, actually delivering on this project isn’t all that important. By portraying himself as the preeminent visionary and entrepreneur of our age, Musk is increasingly associating innovation with both his personal brand and the Tesla brand.

Tesla has always been seen as a leader in car technology. But, with Musk’s interest in futuristic, high speed travel, the brand has increased its perception as a bleeding-edge technology firm, setting itself apart from other traditional mass market carmakers like GM or Chrysler. Now, insights gleaned from our BrandAsset Valuator show that Tesla’s brand equity is actually more similar to popular technology brands like Tumblr and Yelp.

By conspicuously placing himself at the forefront of technology, Elon Musk has successfully created the next big tech company, but instead of a slick App, he is selling cars. In fact, when going to the BAV database to uncover what defines a modern technology company, we found that the Tesla brand has a lot more in common with the tech field than it does with car companies. This is probably a result of Tesla’s Model S feeling more like a technology product than an automobile.

BAV Attributes Most Associated with Specific Categories

Technology Companies: Fun, Social, Trendy, Innovative, Visionary, Unique
Car Companies: Reliable, Trustworthy, High Quality, Down to Earth, Good Value, Leader
Tesla: Innovative, Visionary, Trendy, Distinctive, Unique, Reliable

All in all, it seems the “Elon Musk” brand has some well-earned innovation credibility that it continues to leverage with new venture ideas such as the Hyperloop. These ventures have a “brand rub” that positively affects Tesla and could help the company sell more cars in the process. Musk’s progressive strategy already seems to be proving effective: in the second quarter of 2013, Tesla showed a profit, beating analyst expectations of a slight loss and setting off a rally in its stock price. Other bands would be wise to learn from Tesla’s success; sometimes it is best to look outside your category for inspiration.

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