This is what happens when your core brand’s customer base is the one you are insulting.
Before Elon Musk acquired Twitter, I really wanted a Tesla.
After Elon took the reigns of Twitter, I really didn’t.
This is a perfect lesson on how brands with strong leaders can dictate the future of the brand they represent and how you can adjust your strategy, so you don’t alienate your core customers.
In 2023, the leader-based brand will be a norm. CEOs airing their very personal opinions on social media will become normal because people want relatability. Customers buy brands because they see them as a reflection of their values.
Customers don’t typically buy Apple because their product specifications are better, they buy Apple because they want to be seen both as tech leaders and at a higher level of humanity, able to afford these devices and get the coveted blue bubble on their text messages.
Leave the gross green Google text bubbles to the peasants… yuck.
Both devices do the same thing. One just does it slicker and adds a great dose of branding.
Let’s face it, Elon is known for laying down the hammer, living in the office, and expecting “normal” employees (with little or no stake in the company) to do the same. As a CEO, you can’t really expect your employees to care as much about your brand as you do.
Tim Cook of Apple is pretty much on mute when compared to Elon Musk.
It’s not a bad thing. Tim seems to want the brand to do the talking. And case in point, Tim Cook is gay, but other than adding a few LGBTQ+ supporting options to his product line, he’s basically off of the gaydar.
Tim Cook has a lot of restraint. He could use Apple as a trillion-dollar soap box to force gay rights forward, but he doesn’t. Tim has seemingly struck a balance which Elon is struggling with.
I personally love both approaches, I love the artists like Tim speak when they through their work, and I love the tech leaders like Elon who wear their heart on their sleeves, for better or for worse.
Where Elon lost me, and I believe many others (judging by the massive drop in Tesla stock this year), is that his attitude towards people at Twitter rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t particularly like the Twitter platform, don’t use it, but the way he went about firing people, and giving them ultimatums seemed dictatorial, a concept I oppose.
I don’t like people who rule with an iron fist, it’s not necessary. After all, it’s just a place where people are posting their thoughts, it’s not life or death (although some would argue).
Buying Tesla felt to me like an achievement a year ago, something I could look like a tech geek who cared about the environment, and also made enough loot to afford one. Then shortly after Elon gutted Twitter, buying a Tesla made me feel like someone clandestinely supporting a dictator. The enemy of my enemies are my friends?
I looked at Elon as a fellow tech nerd, then Twitter made me look closer. I admired the image he portrayed when he was focused on the tech. Then I saw the way he fired Twitter employees, then I read stories about his past marriages and relationships, then I read stories about abusing employees, and I started feeling a little bit ill.
How could I be such a bad judge of character? How could I look up to someone like that? I look up to his genius in awe, I truly do, but the balance evaporated after his Twitter acquisition, and subsequent treatment of his employees.
You don’t need to act like that Elon.
Many people justify it, saying, “he’s on the autism spectrum,” “he’s and eccentric genius,” but he also brought in a kitchen sink to Twitter HQ once he bought it.
He absolutely knows what he’s doing, in every respect it’s calculated.
I looked up to the younger Elon when he got emotional during a 60 Minutes interview. He knows how he can be hurt, so he knows how to hurt.
Then again, who am I to judge Elon?
I’m just a kinda-made-it tech guy, with a stable marriage, a couple of kids, who supports people for who they are, who they want to be, and enough about the environment to pay a premium…
I’m a customer.