He may be worth $US20bn and arguably one of the most powerful business people in the world, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pragmatic about his daily drive. According to the Wall Street Journal, Zuckerberg drives a Volkswagen – specifically a Golf GTI. He probably has some luxury wheels in his garage for weekend trips up the Californian coast, but his daily drive is in keeping with his low-key, hoodie-wearing, man-of-the-people image.
While the concept of personal branding is not new, the rise of social media has led to the widespread adoption of the practice among professionals at all levels to market themselves and their careers, and distinguish themselves from their colleagues.
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Whether you’re on the road visiting clients, parked in the office car park or even just the key fob sitting on your desk, the type of car that you drive matters.
Notably – or perhaps notoriously – real estate agents have long treated the car that they drive as a sales tool to influence their perception among prospective clients. For a real estate agent, owning an expensive car evokes a sense of success and professionalism – desirable characteristics when selling a home.
However, these qualities don’t necessarily translate across other industries. In contrast, a politician driving an expensive luxury car may be perceived as conceited at best, corrupt at worst.
Price is not the only determining factor when it comes to buying a car as an extension of your personal brand. Technology, lifestyle, marque, country of origin and pedigree are just some of the factors that contribute to the image projected by the car you drive.
Despite the hefty price tag, the Tesla Model S offers the impression as being forward thinking, technologically savvy and environmentally conscious. The top-of-the-line Toyota LandCruiser 200 Sahara with a $130,000 price tag is far less conspicuous than an entry-level BMW X5 worth $30,000 less. The understated Volkswagen Golf R arguably projects more integrity than the unapologetically wild Subaru WRX STI at a comparable price.
Many celebrities consciously choose a low-key ride because it helps them maintain a level of anonymity. But there are certainly those who choose to make a statement with their wheels. Toyota famously used celebrities to boost its new hybrid Prius, gifting them to the likes of Leonard DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Matt Damon. Though all of these celebs have reportedly traded up to faster and more luxurious Teslas.
And it’s probably not surprising that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a fan of pick up trucks (aka utes) – it’s perfectly in keeping with his image as a tough guy with a heart of gold. He has a seriously customised Ford F-150 – it helps that he is paid to endorse the brand.
Now excuse me while I go to pick up my Bugatti Veyron from the carwash.
Paul Higgins is Director of HelloCars.