Elon Musk Launching His Personal Tesla Roadster Into Space Is Pure Marketing Genius. Here’s Why

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The Space X Heavy Falcon launch was a smashing success in many ways. But to me, it was the cargo that Elon Musk sent aboard the rocket that made the biggest impact. It was Marketing genius.

Right now Elon Musk’s own personal Tesla Roadster is cruising around outer space, complete with a dummy driver dressed in a space suit who is aptly named Starman. Also affixed to the dashboard of the car is a sign that says “Don’t Panic,” while stowed away in the glovebox is a copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Lastly,  blaring loudly into space from the car’s radio is an unending loop of David Bowie’s hit song “Space Oddity.”

I believe this illustrates a great application of one of marketing’s most important concepts: brand equity.

Brand equity is an important concept that attempts to attach real financial value to a brand. The four classic elements of brand equity are:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Brand perceived quality
  3. Brand loyalty
  4. Brand associations

Together these elements create equity for a brand– for example, Nike has enormous financial and marketing equity based on its name, logo, and slogan use. Because of awareness levels, perceived quality of the brand by users, loyalty to Nike, and various positive associations with the brand by consumers, Nike has a huge advantage in the marketplace over its competitors, and a huge financial asset it has created.

The Tesla brand, the Space X brand, and even the brand of the entrepreneur himself, “Elon Musk,” have all been improved with this recent launch.

Let’s break it down by the two elements of brand equity I think best apply to the now orbiting Tesla Roadster, with Starman aboard, blasting David Bowie.

Brand awareness is magnified when you have a relationship with the media.

With all the images of the outer-space cruising roadster and massive press coverage of it, the Space X and Tesla brands are receiving much attention and it’s positively raising awareness levels.  Many who were previously unaware of the Space X program, Tesla, or even Elon Musk, are now aware and remembering the brands. Imagine this, when you now ask a 24 year old from Ohio about space travel, do they say NASA? No, they now say Elon Musk or Space X. Marketing mission accomplished.

Space X is openly sharing the live feed, which really helps create even more awareness. Because of this, many websites, including YouTube, are carrying the live feed of the Tesla in outer space. It certainly has been, and still is, a public relations bonanza.

This is a great lesson for you the entrepreneur. Building a strong relationship with the media, and even providing them with free resources, (for example, the Space X live feed), can certainly help your brand.

Furthermore, fun and exciting newsworthy actions by your company should always be shared with the media. Press releases are important, and there are many online resources on how to write one properly. You should write and send releases to the press regularly. If your business has a special event, do what you can to publicize it– it will strengthen brand awareness for you.

Brand associations, when positive, can boost your equity.

This event is so much more than a fun curiosity– the brand associations for Tesla, Musk, and Space X are booming now. Yes, some may see some negatives, such as missing it’s Mars orbit, or some may see it as a stunt.

However, most folks see this as an amazing and interesting moment in time, and it creates a bevy of positive associations for the brands, enhancing equity.

How fun and exciting- a car wandering around space, with music rocking outer space. Additionally, the technical success of this launch creates great positive associations. The rocket dropped two boosters, which both were recovered and can be reused. The heavy payload showed the power of the Falcon Heavy, signaling a bright future for the private space flight industry.

The brand associations being bandied about now are like fireworks, blasting and banging, with endless sparks, vibrant colors, and coolness. These positive associations boost brand equity. And you should strive to do the same with your business endeavors.

Make sure all your transactions, promotions, and communications create positive associations for your brand. The simplest things can really help a lot. Are your customer service interactions always friendly with a focus on serving your customer? Do you have charity benefits that help your community? When you advertise or have promotions, do you integrate themes that will produce positive associations with your brand?

Do yourself a favor, and always apply aspects of brand equity– building the power of your brand has enormous benefits.

This whole Space X, Tesla launch oozes marketing genius, especially in building brand equity. Enjoy this live feed from the Tesla Roadster on YouTube:

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
  • TAGS
  • Elon Musk
  • Space X
  • Tesla

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