Fisker's Confused B...
 
Share:
Notifications
Clear all

Fisker's Confused Branding - Investor Concern

10 Posts
7 Users
11 Likes
291 Views
BayouBob
(@bayoubob)
Club Member
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 715
Topic starter  

Not trying to start an argument, but a discussion from a shareholder's perspective, so no attacks please! 

One of the biggest concerns I have re Fisker as a long-term investment vehicle is its very eclectic (being generous) brand messaging. What is it? What does it do? Rivian is clear - it is an electric Adventure Vehicle company. Tesla is clear - electric, leading tech and leading performance. Lucid is very clear - same as Tesla but incrementally better (okay, bad example). Almost all car brands are pretty clear in what they are doing and how they are positioned. You know what Jeep or Volvo or Porsche do. Sure, Toyota and Chevy can get away with branching out a bit more, but even VW does not sell the VW Boxster and chevy does not have a celestique. It is off message and a different customer. If you want a VW Boxster you go to Porsche. 

So back to Fisker, what the heck is it trying to be? Ocean, then PEAR, then Ronin? So mid-sized performance SUV, cheap and cheerful city car, re-invented sports saloon (Karma 2.0?) to compete with Taycan? What do any of them have in common? Solar roofs and batteries? Is there any overlap in customers or brand attributes? Fisker seems to be positioning itself as the company that makes stuff Henrik finds interesting which is not sustainable (irony noted). And detours like the Ronin can be super costly in the early growth stage (c.f. the Model X giant mistake that set Tesla back three years). 

The company pitches its stock under the literal banner "a clean future for all" but no idea what that means. Are its vehicles supposed to be accessible to all? Is it a comment about how everyone deserves a clean future? The "most sustainably made vehicles" is a coherent brand value like Volvo's Safest vehicle, but Fisker seems half in and half out on this (probably because it appears there is a very small market that cares enough about it to make purchase decisions on that basis). At best HF will throw it in as a by-the-way in interviews. Not a core brand position. 

Who is the Fisker customer? Is the Ocean a luxury vehicle or a value vehicle? Is it the cheap and cheerful Ocean Sport competing with an Equinox, or a Macan competitor, the auto enthusiast's performance vehicle with expensive and uncommon Alcantara interior, giant wheels, and expensive add-ons? The highest end trim has a starting price 81% higher than the lowest end trim. It is a huge spread. (By comparison, the Model 3 is 34%, R1T is 22%, iX is 28%, etc. You do not get this sort of extreme price spread until you get to near exotic brands like Porsche Taycan and Lucid Air which offer exceptionally broad technical differentiation - the Air Sapphire and the Air Pure are barely the same vehicle.) 

Fisker's brand is emerging as "stuff Henrik likes." Henrik really likes big wheels. He likes unusual fabrics and contrasting interior materials. He likes solar roofs. All of these featured prominently in the Fisker Karma as the interior photo below reminds us (also outsourced production to leading contract vehicle maker for Porsche, btw). They have returned to the Ocean.

As an investor, it is clear to me that someone needs to tell Henrik "no." (Remember when Elon wanted to completely redesign the Model Y from ground up? The executive team told him no. They insisted he use the 3 platform instead. It was the single most fateful decision that drove Tesla's success.) The Ronin is a stupid, low volume vanity project and a distraction. The PEAR and the Ocean have unclear and incoherent brand positioning. This is all fixable but it starts with a recognition of the problem. Ocean needs a coherent branding that is going to hang together with PEAR. 

There are a bunch of viable positioning options, but just one top-of-head example is to position Fisker as "Vehicles for a Sustainable Lifestyle." 

  • Most sustainably made vehicles
  • For people who care about living an environmentally responsible lifestyle
  • No compromise on style, performance, or practicality 
  • Sustainability is a way of thinking not a add-on option, infused into everything we do

Someone who does this for a living and has thought about it for more than 3 minutes will do better, but you get the idea. Even the rough sketch above is now starting to create a coherent story with customer affiliation hooks. (One could easily take an entirely different tack. For example, you could position Fisker as "rolling sculpture" known for its beautiful lines - I do not think the PEAR will live well under that brand, however.)

A Volvo is safe and reliable. A Rivian is the luxury electric Adventure vehicle, a jeep for rich people and a Land Rover for people who actually go off-road. Chevy is "an affordable version of every class of vehicle" (from city cars to sports cars to SUVs). Porsche is the track-ready luxury car. Dodge is the muscle car. So what is Fisker? The answer has to be something other than "stuff Henrik likes" or the company is going to get clobbered far worse than anything we have seen so far. You want to sell fifty-thousand $70k SUVs next year and twice that many the year after along with a game changing affordable city car? You need a coherent brand.

$ 57

   
ReplyQuote
speedyholm
(@speedyholm)
Member
Joined: 1 month ago
Posts: 15
 

Well I am not an investor, merely a potential customer. But @bayoubob I have to say I pretty much agree with your post. I havn´t looked to much at the other two cars, Fisker seems to have in the pipeline. The Ocean is the type of vehicle I am looking for, so just skipped these really. But if I were a shareholder I would probably look at the company with more analytic eyes. And if you do this, @bayoubob you have a good point. It´s too cluttered and a mixed bag of things. They should really sit down and think this through or even better hire a proper communications company. ?


   
ReplyQuote
(@seasalter)
Member
Joined: 6 months ago
Posts: 26
 

100% @bayoubob. As an investor, you nailed it. I'm worried. A body of water and a fruit and a god walik into a bar...  This is going to be a bad joke. Maybe a catchy song should be written: He likes big wheels and he cannot lie... Well, maybe he can. Everything you want is an extra, including real wheels. The price spread is so Extreme (weak pun intended) that it's off-putting and I think his only option is to lean into it. Pitch the sustainability the way you outline above (and  that's been part of his pitch) but pitch that price spread as a feature not a bug: There's a price for each model that meets every consumer where they are.  Whatever tack they take it's going to require more than his daughter on Instagram. 

? | ? | ? | Ordered 8/7/22


   
ReplyQuote
BayouBob
(@bayoubob)
Club Member
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 715
Topic starter  

Posted by: @seasalter

Whatever tack they take it's going to require more than his daughter on Instagram. 

Yeah, that's another thing. Echo chamber thinking very serious issue here. 

 


   
ReplyQuote
Sean Callahan
(@seancallahan)
Super Moderator Club Member
Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 1267
 

@bayoubob You make good points. Don't you think the brand is focused around these three things? Design, sustainability, and innovation. 

https://www.fiskerinc.com/brand

Fiskerati is my passion project -- follow along across the web for the latest updates.

🌊 Ocean One #0469 | Night Drive | Black Abyss Plus | 22” F3b SlipStreams


   
ReplyQuote
KITAZ
(@kitaz)
Member
Joined: 6 months ago
Posts: 65
 

Like @speedyholm , I first just liked and wanted the Ocean EUV. My first investment was the $5k deposit for a confirmed order for an Ocean one and since then I've become a (small) stock investor.  Admittedly that order biases  my stock investment thinking.  I like the business model of teaming with contract manufacturers. I do think the branding so far is simplistic, but I'm ok with that since the key to a successful company is all about overcoming the hurdles and delivering those first 5000 Ocean Ones. No Branding will overcome failing to do that , and the free advertising from succeeding at that is potentially priceless. 

The discussion in this thread about Ocean, Ronin and Pear names made me wonder if Fisker is trying to spell a word with the names, like Tesla did with S3XY. If the Fisker Truck is named "Tide", then the word would be PORT ? ? 

 


   
Neni and Sean Callahan reacted
ReplyQuote
BayouBob
(@bayoubob)
Club Member
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 715
Topic starter  

Posted by: @seancallahan

@bayoubob You make good points. Don't you think the brand is focused around these three things? Design, sustainability, and innovation. 

https://www.fiskerinc.com/brand

@seancallahan See, to me, this reads as nothing more than "stuff Henrik likes." Ask yourself, how does it do with the mother-in-law test. Imagine your mythical mother-in-law who does not know much about cars (like most people) and she hears you are buying a new car. 

MIL: "Oh, what kind of car are you getting?"

You: "A Fisker Ocean, its an electric SUV."

MIL: "Fisker, I have never heard of them. What sort of cars do they build?"

Now, if she asked that about Jeep or Tesla or pretty much any company, you can answer in one or two sentences. Let's try:

Jeep: "SUVs known for their off-road capability."

Tesla: "Electric cars known for being fast and having the latest technology. They have only touch screens and can drive themselves (almost, sorta)."

Maserati: "Beautiful Italian designed sports cars and performance SUVs. Small volume, uncommon to see (break a lot)."

Chevrolet: "Big American manufacturer offers a pretty good, pretty nice looking, affordable version of almost anything. Affordable muscle car (Camero), affordable sports car (Corvette), affordable EV (Bolt), affordable truck (Silverado), etc."

Toyota: "Big Japanese manufacturer makes highly reliable and super-conservatively styled vehicles. Always a safe choice at a affordable price."

Lexus: "Toyota's luxury brand. The go-to brand for upper-middle-class white suburban moms who want to make a safe, reliable choice and still show off a bit."

And within the above, you can define a clear product theme and customer focus. It is obvious who buys the Jeeps, Teslas, Chevys, and Toyotas. 

So with Fisker we are saying what? "Electric vehicles that have nice design, sustainability and innovation."

 


   
ReplyQuote
Sean Callahan
(@seancallahan)
Super Moderator Club Member
Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 1267
 

@bayoubob You make a good point. Me: "Fiskers are beautifully designed sustainable electric vehicle with the latest technology." Will this be enough to succeed? The million dollar question. Clearly there is confusion around branding. I agree with you there. Maybe it will all become clear once cars are on the road and we get to walk into an experience center next year?

Fiskerati is my passion project -- follow along across the web for the latest updates.

🌊 Ocean One #0469 | Night Drive | Black Abyss Plus | 22” F3b SlipStreams


   
ReplyQuote
DMan1953
(@dman1953)
Club Member
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 84
 

A lot of competition on the way. The Fisker business plan differentiates itself from existing car manufacturers through design, sustainability and innovation; innovation being the at the forefront. EVs will all be powered essentially the same way and with this in common innovation will be the “line in the sand”. I believe the Ocean will have more tech or state of the art tech than most EVs, and EV design (autonomous driving, digital radar…) will be the difference-maker buyers of EVs will be looking for. Also, Fiskers balance sheet isn’t loaded with brick and mortar debt and depreciation…so that helps too. 


   
ReplyQuote
(@drshahali10)
Member
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 311
 

@seancallahan Not sure its so much branding on sustainability. Sure it was cool 3 years ago.. but now every major manufacturer has "sustainable material" and eco, vegan, vegetarian, piscatarian friendy material in their advertising. See Mercedes, see Kia , See Polestar 3 Most of the newest cars have that, its almost a given so no longer a differentiator. 

Design, good. lets face it.. the main thing i read about all thing fisker is HF. All the time HF is mentioned as the designer from bmw and Aston Martin... using those luxury brands to promote him rather than the otheeway round.

Luxury.. to be honest, im not sure we can say that. for example Kia and hyundai own Genesis. Yet we all know despite the GV60 and EV6 similar underlying technology, the GV60 is premium, not just price but also features. Fisker has good and some areas leading technology, but premium it is not... not comapred to GV60 or the polestar.

To me, Ocean is a good value proposition with some leading edge technology (most going to avialable with competitors it not done so already) and at the current price level, very good. I see it better than the MY3 and some specs (WLTP range) much better than the others. 

 

 


   
ReplyQuote
Share: