Branding case study – Why the Tesla Model S is so important

Tesla Model S

Why we love Tesla and their Model S

Ok this story is probably 2 years too late, but in the UK you see them more and more. On a sales trip to the Netherlands recently we saw that Schiphol is using the Tesla Model S as taxi now, which inspired us to do a mini case study on the Tesla Model S.

But why write about cars when are running a design agency?
Simply said because the new Tesla is not just a car. It is a beautiful piece of a design and a truly unique piece of technology. Which is what we happen to love!
Plus, in our opinion, it has everything to do with the perception of a brand.

So here is why we think Tesla is even more of a big deal than people already think it is.

  1. It changes people’s perception

If you think of the Prius or the Opel Ampera, or even worse the Peugeot Ion (cringe..) you wouldn’t really class these as sexy cars would you? As a matter of fact, the first commercial electric cars were the most boring cars you could ever imagine. Tasteless design, nothing exciting and poor handling.

So naturally, people’s perception of electric cars was that they are nothing exciting indeed.

But then came along Tesla. A small unknown company out of the US. Yes, the US. The land of the V8, drag racing and thirsty pick-up trucks. Tesla all of a sudden started making a really good looking Lotus-inspired car. The Tesla Roadster. This was different, this was cool. All of a sudden, electric cars were becoming cool. Even more so, the Tesla Roadster was so unique and was produced in such a limited edition that people wanted to know more about it. Other car makers followed soon with Hybrid technology. Porsche was quite an early adopter with the hybrid Panamera and McLaren is now changing the world with their new P1. But the point is this – electric cars can be cool. Very cool.

So this is also why we think the Tesla Model S is already doing so well. Ok a few early models may have self-ignited and burned down but let’s just say that all new technology has its issues (do you remember the antenna issues when the iPhone 4 came out, or more recently the flexible-when-it-shouldn’t-be iPhone 6).

Tesla was already a cool car, thanks to the Roadster. Now that they are becoming more mainstream with the Model S, they are still perceived to be a very cool brand. Would the Tesla Model S have had the same success if they introduced it before they did the Roadster? Perhaps, but if you look at the importance of brand perception we certainly think it helped them having a ‘cool car’ image already.

  1. They seriously are beautifully designed cars

It’s not just the technology that’s beautiful. If Jaguar decided to take the Tesla Model S, stick a 4.2 V8 in it and sell it as a new model of their own people would still buy it. Why? Because it simply is an absolutely stunning car. Everything from the shape of the car, the headlights, the massive rims and then the beautiful door handles which carry much resemblance to an Aston Martin, are just absolutely fantastically designed. Now that Aston Martin is on the table – watch this video of a Model S turning an Aston Martin into a spec in his rear mirror.

What also stunned us that whoever we talked to about the Tesla Model S indeed agreed it is great looking car. This goes to show how much thought has gone in to the design process, in order to make it appealing almost everyone – which is not easy. It is appealing to men, women, elderly, teens and anyone you can think of.

Tesla Model S interior

  1. They lead the way into the future

In a bold move, Elon Musk did the opposite of what most entrepreneurs do. He actually shared how his technology works. He made the patent available to everyone and anyone to use. The last time we saw this was when Volvo gave away their seatbelt patent in 1959, which was a move that completely changed the car industry at the time. Volvo’s MD was quoted as saying the decision to release the seatbelt patent was ‘visionary’ – much like Tesla’s idea to release their patents.

In Tesla’s own words their mission is to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. ‘If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal.’

In conclusion – the Tesla Model S is a game changer. A game changer we welcome with open arms.
And more importantly Tesla has established itself as a great brand with an amazing reputation in a very short period of time. Which we love!

Do you have any first-hand experience with the Tesla Model S? We would love to hear from you.


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