Tesla: A love brand strategy

29 · 09 · 2016



Brands get a lot more valued from earned media than paid media. This is the plan for Tesla, a brand that succeeds at telling “stories” that impact people.

Remember the last Tesla ad? I don’t. What did I do? I Googled it but alas did not find anything. In contrast, what I did find was this spot by the Freise Brothers, who decided to pay homage to Tesla for free in a special way. Tesla fans, let me warn you that this could make you excited:

We set off from the premise that one of content marketing‘s objectives is to let the audience know about the brand’s unique value proposition, make it so that others can find and inevitably make it theirs (buy it). The transmission and ascension of this value will pass over from the brand to consumers, and they will become brand ambassadors.

The brand must tell a story, and Tesla’s been writing its own for quite some time. Starting with its CEO, the comparisons between Elon Musk and Steve Jobs get made daily. They both talk about visionaries that launched companies with big ambitions. Steve Jobs was a master at narratives and had a unique flair for the dramatic. On occasion, Elon Musk can trip himself up while speaking yet exudes the confidence of someone who’s conscious of being years ahead of his or her competitors.

Presenting models, announcing new products, disruptive technology, etc., are the focal points for daily brand storytelling and that generates that hundreds of thousands of people share the brand’s latest updates on social media as they keep an eye on the latest updates.

And if this storytelling comes with a side of real stories from their clientele? Tesla’s website is betting on high-quality branded content that you can find in the “Customer Stories” on their website. In contrast from other brands than tried to tell their stories depending on customers, here the customers are the ones telling their stories.

We can see benefits stemming from Tesla’s strategic plan in the following graph. I made a little experiment cross-referencing data for tagged posts on Instagram with four other brands, using statistics about how many cars were sold by brand.

From this analysis, we can derive that from every Tesla car sold in 2015 more than 14.2 photos are posted and tagged on Instagram, while brands like Ford see 1.6 photos uploaded and Hyundai sees a lot less than one. This is the difference between a love brand and the others in its category.

On their social media accounts, Tesla has an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+. Their primary objective is brand awareness. There was no visible evidence of promoted content nor paid media campaigns, which denotes that it’s betting on organic content dissemination. Their editorial calendars and even their content formats vary a lot from one platform to another (following recommended practices). On Facebook, video and curated content are crucial while on Instagram still images that sell a different lifestyle dominate. How does this strategy translate? 

Instagram highlights an interaction rate above any other platform despite not having the largest community.

Over the last few months, this is how we came to see it at Good Rebels. Brands should bet on Instagram (we’ll see when since Facebook modifies the edge rank). Since they activated proprietary analytics, we see how their organic reach hovers between 40-45% of the community while on Facebook it will be around 8-12% (fluctuating with the community volume).

Tesla’s communities, value for consideration

Many have written and commented on Rebel Thinking and in the hallways of the office about the real value of branded communities. Well, Tesla is a definite example of working with micro-communities of Tesla owners that have sprouted up worldwide and have an active web and social media presence with impeccable corporate identity (check out Tesla Owners Club Canada). In Spain, the Tesla Club on Facebook has more than 7,300 members. It’s, without hesitation, one of the company’s biggest assets right now. Loyal clients with “digital speakers” shouting their love for the brand. And what does this transform into when it comes to metrics? In user-generated content on a global level, since not that many brands have it and that it impacts potential customers with more believable messages than those any other brand could come up with. “Tesla fans are crazy advocates, “ and they’re right.

A breakdown of their latest launch

While this isn’t new, and many have already written about it since the Tesla launched the Model 3 in March of this. Many media outlets kept echoing out the news with startling statistics (+325,000 pre-orders) in only a few days for a car that won’t begin production for nearly a year. Here’s something to put this into perspective: the whole United States saw only 116,000 electric sold in 2015. What were the keys to success, in my opinion?

  • A 100% digital campaign: no dealership network. Automatic reservation.
  • Anticipation: They haven’t started production, and it’s launched on the market two years before a one-of-a-kind event.
  • Purchase policy: you can get your reservation deposit back at any time.

I invite you to take a look at the landing page they made for managing orders. Among the highlighted best practices are:

  • Specifying only one price.
  • Only two clear calls to action (reserve and stay up-to-date) that are at the beginning and the end of the landing page.
  • Photo gallery and presentation video. Without containing too much information.

The launch’s success also came from the following strategic keys:

  • Broader market: Tesla is launching its first affordable model in search of increasing its pool of potential owners. Up until now, they had kept their eye on luxury cars.
  • Corporate fleets: It’s estimated that of the orders made up until now, 1/3 of them will go towards company cars.
  • Technology: Tesla promises that this model will be able to travel around 346 kilometers with completely charged batteries.

To wrap up this post, it’s important to highlight that brand loyalty comes from emotional connections. Today’s most prominent brands have one common purpose: make and strengthen these emotional connections with their customers. A study from CEB found that, besides being loyalty to a company just because, people are loyal to what a company represents. Tesla has designed a product that makes people feel like they’re moving forward. They don’t only pay for a means of transportation; they pay for a piece of the future. It’s a company that has as its vision to promote the move to electric vehicles with the hope that one day the planet’s energy problems can be solved.

“True brands are created by customers.”

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