Elon Musk is the CEO of Tesla, one of the world's largest manufacturers of electric cars. If you didn't already know that, I encourage you to move out from the rock you've been living under.
Elon Musk is famous not only because he is the CEO of multiple big corporations but also because of his particular actions and his carefully created public persona.
Here we will discuss why he has the most prominent personal brand of anyone doing business.
We will discuss the statistics that best highlight how powerful Elon Musk's Personal Brand is, one of the main reasons Tesla spends less money on advertisements.
Tesla doesn't spend all their money on marketing because of the power of Elon Musk's brand. They can afford to spend more on research and development, and in fact, Tesla outspends its nearest competitor by three times which is incredible.
In this article, we will explore the crazy world of Elon Musk, who is a genius in every sense of the word.
How does he have so much personal branding power?
There are three elements to his unique personal brand - strategy, controversy, and philanthropy.
Elon Musk - The Brand Strategy
Starting with stunts:
Elon Musk is no stranger to them, as you know now. Getting attention from doing things that are unusual is something Elon Musk has done many times over, whether it's naming his child with an alien form name or selling flamethrowers to get traction for the Boring Company.
Elon even released a pair of skimpy shorts to jab at investors who shorted his stock. He released Tesla-branded tequila 'Teslaquila' charging $250 per bottle- which can be bought through the Tesla website.
As part of his marketing strategy, Tesla CEO Elon Musk launched the company's new sports model car, "Tesla Roadster," into space as a marketing stunt. He also implanted a chip into a pig's brain to help facilitate his groundbreaking science with Neuralink Technology.
When he smashed the window of Tesla Cybertruck on stage during its unveiling, did you think it was a faux pas? It was pure strategy to gain attention and was indeed a massive success in getting the crowd talking!
The Bad Side of Elon Musk - The Controversies
Elon Musk's personal brand has a fair share of controversies too. We may not agree on whether he is the type of person who looks for controversy or if it finds him, but we do know that Elon enjoys dealing with them! That being said, Twitter is by far the biggest source of Elon Musk's controversies. He can be seen knowingly or unknowingly trying to manipulate financial markets in tweets, and one tweet consisting of a single word was enough to crash Shiba Inu cryptocurrency massively in just one day.
Because of one word in a tweet, a Twitter account called Shib Hodler asked Elon Musk how much of the Shiba Coin cryptocurrecy he owns. Elon Musk replied with a one-word tweet that simply said "none" and oh my god, the price of that coin tumbled down as soon as that Tweet went out. That is the power of Elon Musk's brand.
How many other CEOs would even engage with such a tweet when asked a question like that? Other CEOs would not bother to reply to this tweet, but that is not Elon; he saw an opportunity for controversy and gladly took it.
Another huge example of Elon's financial market manipulation is when he tweeted that Tesla’s stock price is too high!
By this tweet, he ended up wiping 14 billion dollars off Tesla’s valuation, which took some time to recover.
When you tweet against your own company, investors are going to think you're doing what you can to lower it. This reduced confidence, of course, caused its stock value to tumble down.
Elon Musk should have known better, and in fact, I think he did know better because back in 2018, Elon Musk got himself and his company, Tesla, into trouble when he tweeted about a potential takeover of Tesla. Eventually, Tesla was sued for 20 million dollars by the SEC as this tweet was ruled as a 'Securities Fraud.'
Elon is a controversial character who keeps getting into trouble with the financial markets.
One other controversy he created has nothing to do with the markets and is probably the most controversial thing he's ever done, in my opinion.
In 2018, a football team in Thailand got stuck and stranded inside a cave in Northern Thailand due to flash flooding that filled the cave with water. The rescuers could not reach them as the kids and their coach was unable to swim underwater since they did not have the necessary equipment to do so.
Elon Musk made a plan to rescue the team using a mini-submarine which he had named 'Wild Boar' that was built with engineers from SpaceX and Tesla after he saw video footage of the children being trapped deep underground.
Later the Thai authorities decided to not use the submarines and instead sought the help of professional divers led by Vernon Unsworth, a British professional diver who successfully saved them and completely stole Elon's thunder.
Elon Musk seemed frustrated with the decision of the Thai authorities not to proceed with his plan( of not being given the spotlight ). Elon Musk himself had gone to Thailand with the submarine for the rescue, but Vernon Unsworth ended up leading the rescue mission instead of Elon, and finally, Elon's help was not needed. Vernon Unsworth called Elon's effort a 'pr stunt.'
The opinions are still divided if this whole episode was just an attempt by Elon Musk to garner more attention, or it is because he really cares about people in need.
In any case, Elon was not happy about the whole episode and tweeted that Vernon was a 'pedo guy'
The tweet is now deleted, and Elon later apologized for that, but this is all more proof that Elon Musk is no stranger to controversy, and in fact, he goes looking for it all the time.
But apart from these controversies that Elon Musk happily indulges in, there is another side of Elon that is seldom talked about, and that is his philanthropic side.
The Good Side of Elon Musk
Elon Musk loves to give charity, but there's always some underlying condition or potential reason he does it; for example, in November of 2021, Elon Musk quietly sold 5 million Tesla shares and donated them to a charity that nobody actually knows.
But the likely outcome is that this is just a bit of accounting trickery; you see, Musk, in the past, has leveraged a system called a DAF, or "donor-advised fund," and this basically allows him to move his money into charitable status for use later on.
What that does is basically move chunks of asset/money from his current tax bill and help manage it more efficiently.
Elon Musk had recently been hit with a 15 billion dollar tax bill. If I'm going to be a cynic, I might say that he used that charitable donation to offset some of those tax responsibilities.
But Let's look at the brighter side and count the charities he has actually done.
Elon Musk recently donated over 150 million dollars to charity.
$100 million of that money was given away as a prize fund for the best idea to remove carbon from the Earth's atmosphere in a climate change competition.
$30 million went towards non-profits in Rio Grande Valley, Texas.
$20 million has been set aside for local district and charter schools, with 10 going toward revitalizing downtown Brownsville.
Elon Musk also pledged $5 Million to Khan Academy, a nonprofit online education platform. In comparison, another $5 Million were put into research by Boston researchers studying coronavirus, and one million was used to feed those who struggle with food insecurity in Texas.
These are the ones we know about; I am sure he does plenty and loads more charity.
Leader of the sustainable ecosystem technologies
Love him or hate him, indeed, Elon Musk is taking more and more steps toward a greener and healthier ecosystem on Earth. He is betting big on technologies that are sustainable and eco-friendly.
Also, Tesla is spending more on research and development than any other automaker. This means they are objectively the best electric car manufacturer in the world, as their vehicles are faster, have better range, and have better battery technology at this moment in time.
Tesla has brought innovation to everything from infotainment to online services - all of these things that were done with its R&D money paid off because Tesla is outpacing automakers with a hundred-year advantage over them. When you're producing vehicles that are noteworthy, like what Teslas make, it's obvious why they've succeeded so much against traditional automotive giants who already had an advantage when those companies began production originally!
Proponent of Free Speech in the truest form
Elon Musk is a supporter of Free Speech in its fullest sense. He has often objected to the censorship shown in social media when well-known personalities’ accounts are blocked when they voice controversial opinions.
Musk has always stood by the principle that Free Speech and Expression must not be subject to regulation by these social media platforms.
On March 24, 2022, Musk tweeted if Twitter Algorithm needs to be made open source.
A whopping 87.3% voted in favor of the idea.
In the following days, it was speculated and rumored that Musk planned to buy a big chunk of stakes at Twitter. He even speculated about the possibility of starting his own social media platform where Free Speech would be genuinely free.
On April 4, 2022, Musk bought 9.2% of passive stakes in Twitter, now worth over $2.89 billion, making him the largest shareholder of Twitter.
In the following days, Musk tweeted his ideas on Twitter to make it more ‘Free Speech’ friendly.
He was offered a seat on the board of Directors on Twitter, which he declined after a few days.
On April 25th, 2022, Elon Musk reached an agreement with the board at Twitter to buy Twitter for $44 billion and thus take Twitter private.
Musk promised to take a more lenient approach to censorship and content moderation on the Twitter platform. This means that voices of all sides of the political and social spectrum will be allowed on the platform.
If this would bring about a positive change in the world is yet to be predicted. We just might need to wait and watch how it all plays out.
In a nutshell, Elon is a person who strongly believes in and supports Free Expression. With him buying Twitter and taking it private, he has shown to the world that he is ready to walk the talk and take any means necessary to influence changes on a platform that he uses most to communicate with the world.
In his own words, he says
"Twitter has tremendous potential–I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."
He strongly believes in Free Speech and has asked even his fiercest critics to stay on the platform as that is what he believes to be Free Speech in the truest form.
People love Elon Musk; some despise him.
At the end of the day, what we think about Elon Musk is irrelevant because he has built the biggest personal brand of all time in business, and he is here to stay at the forefront as a leader in technology and innovation. If controversies keep the buzz going about him and his initiatives. I say, let there be more of it as long as the net result is positive.
Finally, to summarize the personal brand of Elon, allow me to alter a quote from 'The Dark Knight.'
"He is the hero the world doesn’t deserve but the one it needs right now."