Did The Book Primal Branding Inspire Elon Musk With Tesla?

Tesla’s branding surely fits all core traits described by Patrick Hanlon, according to this video.

We have mixed feelings about this video. It started in a way that made us want to see what its point was. The presenter, Sven Pape, described himself as a loyal VW owner, driving the same Jetta for 20 years. Then, he said he made a big mistake and started talking about the things he did not want to talk about. His focus would be on the seven core branding traits of Tesla. In other words, what made it the recognizable and desirable car brand it is today.

Gallery: Is Primal Branding The Explanation For Tesla’s Successful Branding?

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These traits have been described in the book “Primal Branding,” from Patrick Hanlon, which Pape recommends. As we are not familiar with the book, we searched for its reviews. The traits are origin story, creed, icons, rituals, non-believers, sacred words, and the leader.

Hanlon is a senior advertising executive that had the idea for this book after wondering what made some brands so strong and others not so much despite apparently having the right factor in getting there. After studying these brands, he discovered these traits so that they could be reproduced by companies that also wanted to succeed in this area. In other words, the book is a sort of reverse engineering of branding success.

Pape finds all these traits in Tesla. Summing up, the origin story involves the Master Plan. The creed is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” as Nassim Taleb heard from Tesla’s Customer Support.

The icons are Tesla’s cars. The rituals involve the procedures to activate Autopilot or to supercharge the car, among others. We would not have to tell you about the non-believers nor about the sacred words, but we will. 

The first ones are so sure they are short-sellers. The second ones involve all the vocabulary that makes Tesla supporters feel like a community, such as FSD, AP, TSLAQ (for non-believers), and so forth. Then, there’s the leader.

We honestly do not know what to think. Has Elon Musk read the book, written in 2006, and applied the ideas to Tesla? Are the traits definition so loose they would make any company look like it had “primal branding?”

Our final doubts regard the big mistake Pape mentions at the beginning of the video. Was it falling in love with Tesla? What does PPF have to do with that apart from protecting the Model 3 from paint issues? The video does not answer that.

You might want to watch it to give us your thoughts about what it wants to talk about. Do you think it hit the nail in the head? Or will Hanlon have to write another book to explain Tesla’s successful branding without the need for traditional advertising? We are more inclined towards this last possibility.

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