Can the incumbent utility brand itself green?

Jim Rogers, the retired former CEO of Duke Energy was the first CEO of a major utility to address environmental issues and once named by Newsweek as one of the “50 Most Powerful People in the World”.

In his presentation at the Green Energy track at CHARGE 2016, Jim talked about the customer relationship during the transformation of the Power Industry in the United States.

Duke Energy has the reputation of being affordable, reliable and safe. No one would say that they were green, they were the highest contributors of Co2 in the United States.

You can’t brand yourself unless you walk the talk.

Duke Energy has cut down Co2 emissions by almost 30 per cent but Jim admits that although the number seems high and the amount of emissions cut is quite large, the company is still a major contributor of Co2 emissions in the United States. For the effort, the company has been on the Dow Jones sustainability index for eleven years.

Branding: it’s not what you say about yourself, but what others say about you.

In addition to cutting down emissions, the company has made some considerable investments in wind and solar as well as investing in solutions that provide customers with rooftop solar.

The key point in adapting to and investing in green technology is to be able to communicate with and educate different stakeholders. The customer expects affordability and the investor want to see that the company will see a return on their green energy investment.

As Jim put it, the company invested in where the wind blows and the sun shines as well as looking at opportunities where the regulatory environment is favourable towards green investment.

 

 

 

The 2017 CHARGE Awards

charge energy branding awards
Stedin from The Netherlands won the 2016 CHARGE Energy Branding Awards in the category of Transmission and Distribution

The CHARGE team is in full swing reaching out to the brands that were shortlisted by a panel of experts as the World’s Best Energy Brands. The panel consists of specialists in marketing and branding as well as energy professionals around the world. The panel has members in academia, energy companies, energy associations, energy innovation, advertising agencies and marketing consultancies.

We are reaching out to 90 brands in 6 categories of the best energy brands in the world. The categories are established brands, challenger brands, green brands, transmission brands, distribution brands and energy product brands.

The methodology derives from decades of academic research and studies in the fields of marketing and branding to determine how consumers perceive brands in general. To make the measurement more relevant to the energy space, knowledge from recent research on consumer perception of energy utilities was added to make the methodology more specific for the energy space. The methodology is also the basis for the Energy Branding Benchmarking Index (EBBI) which is used by power companies around the world to measure their energy brands.

We will reveal the finalists later this summer, each category can have up to five finalists. The finalists will be featured in the next edition of the best brands report. The report might also feature a selection of shortlisted brands that will not make it into the final selection.

The CHARGE Awards were a great success at the inaugural CHARGE Energy Branding Conference which was the world’s first conference to focus on branding in the energy space. Following the success of last year’s event- we have decided to expand the awards from three categories to six this year.

Energizing opportunities at IKEA

Sustainability has been a part IKEA’s identity since it’s humble beginnings in Sweden decades ago. Guðný Camilla Aradóttir is the Sustainability Responsible at IKEA Iceland, taking care of sustainability issues. The goal of the brand is to eliminate waste at all time.

IKEA’s sustainability strategy, titled People & Planet Positive, set out some ambitious goals for the brand to head towards more sustainability. IKEA operates wind farms around the world and has installed solar panels on the rooftops of its store locations around the world, installed panels on office buildings and even sold solar panels for homes at some of its locations.

Report on the Best Energy Brands

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LarsEn Energy Branding and CHARGE Energy Branding Conference have released the first comprehensive report on the world’s best energy brands. The report contains case studies from 14 of the best energy brands in the world, selected by a panel of 30 experts from around the world from different sectors of energy and marketing spectrum. Details on how the best energy brands in Green Energy, energy retail, transmission and distribution are facing the challenging and changing energy landscape by putting the customer at the centre of their business strategy.

Research has shown that one of the hindering factors that are standing in the way of powerful energy brands and marketing orientation is both the lack of support and understanding of branding of management. The cases in the report show that the best energy brands don’t leave their energy marketing at the hands of their marketing departments, not only is top management involved but everyone else in the organisation. Branding involves the marketing and branding departments and top management as well as every employee – branding is an issue for marketing, management and human resources as well.

The companies in the report go beyond transactional relationships, they speak to the hearts of the consumer. While more and more organisations in the utility-sector have become more consumer-oriented, the brands featured in the report have gone beyond supplying electricity or offering smart thermostats, storage or solar panels by speaking to the minds and hearts of their customers.

The report is just over 100 pages long, rich with graphics and information about the best-in-class companies in the world – both competing in deregulated markets as well as customer-centric brands in monopoly markets. While being a required reading for any power company or a utility that puts the customer first, it looks damn good and can double as a coffee-table book at any respected energy company.

The report is released in a limited quantity and can be ordered at larsen.energy/bestbrands.

Untapping Geothermal brand power

According to Dr. Jefferson Tester of Cornell University, geothermal energy is the most underrated or unknown green energy source. Despite having the biggest output of geothermal energy in the world, most Americans don’t realise how much geothermal production goes on in the country.

It can be said that geothermal energy is a mostly untapped source of power, not only in the traditional sense of power generation but in terms of storytelling for the energy brand. The source of energy is often an underrated brand asset and geothermal has great potential to become a valuable part of powerful energy branding and marketing.

Dr. Kevin Lane Keller on Energy Branding (Video)

Dr. Keller set the stage in Reykjavik last September during the kick-off session. His keynote connected the fundamentals of branding to the energy space and set the tone for the conference in general.

Dr. Keller is an internationally renowned scholar and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. He is the co-author of the number one best selling MBA textbook on branding and companies have successfully implemented his academic findings in the professional world of branding and marketing.

We are adding videos from the conference to our Youtube channel. Make sure to subscribe and hit the alerts button to get regular updates.

Marketing for electric utilities

There is a lot of misunderstanding on the nature and role of branding as well as how to define marketing. Many think that marketing is just about fun and games – something that is about advertising and events – a thing that funds can be allocated to during a boom cycle. For many, the concept of branding means something that is a more elaborate version of marketing.

LarsEn Energy Branding
The Energy Brand

Marketing is any signal a company sends out to the market. It can of course be a nice commercial or a Tweet but it is also price signals through the resources they buy and the products they sell, it is the voice that answers at the end of the line and the bills sent out. Every organisation both in regulated and deregulated markets should be aware that everything a company does is marketing in one way or another, direct or indirect – just as everyone is in customer service in one way or another.

Branding defines the How of marketing and the Why. It is a strategic tool and it should define how the customer experiences the brand. But neither branding nor marketing can define the brand. A brand can be defined at a company level but the real definition of a brand comes from the customer – it is the customer who really perceives the brand as it really is.

Marketing for the electric utility or the energy brand should not only be thought of as advertising or social media appearance. It should be thought of everything a brand or a company does and any touchpoint with both internal and external audiences and stakeholders.

The Guide to Consumer-centric Energy Markets in 2017

enoro

Our friends over at Enoro have a new publication called The Guide to Consumer-centric Energy Markets in 2017 Or: How utilities can succeed in the ongoing energy industry transformation by putting the customer in the center.

The publication features some great content from the Enoro team as well as contributions from Fortum (which was nominated to the CHARGE Awards 2016 as one of the world’s best energy brands) plus an article by Fridrik Larsen titled Smart Energy needs clever branding.

[…] – it is as the utilities are fighting an unwinnable battle on multiple fronts. This requires a well laid out strategy. Before the strategy is laid out, the utilities need to know how they perceive themselves and how they are perceived by the consumer. When that has been realized, they can start building a strong brand that is relevant in the mind of the customer

You can download the whole publication on a handy pdf here.

CHARGE 2016 Highlights from Janine Finnell

One of the pleasures of CHARGE 2016 was not only to finally meet people in person for the first time but also to get to meet new people for the very first time. One of our guests was Janine Finnell who is the Founder and Clean Energy Embassador of Leaders in Energy. Janine has posted her top ten list of highlights from the conference and her stay in Iceland. On the off-venue part of the conference which took place in the Reykjanes peninsula she writes:

[…] we also took a field trip to the HS Orka Resource Park, an example of how Iceland is branding green energy to attract newcomers to come here and invest in Iceland for their industry. […]The excess resource stream from the power plants are used in a variety of businesses, including one of Iceland´s most popular attractions, the Blue Lagoon; the first renewable methanol plant, Carbon Recycling International; and others, including cosmetic production, biotechnology, a high tech fish farm, and fish drying facilities.

Janine sat down and talked about the most interesting points raised from her point of view and about Leaders in Energy:

KC Boyce looks back at CHARGE2016

This year we had both guests and speakers coming in from all over the world to Iceland to participate in the world’s first energy branding conference in Reykjavik. One of our speakers coming from the United States was KC Boyce of Market Strategies International. From the country where the electric utility was invented and some of the first energy were liberalized to competition, KC gave valuable insights on energy brands in the US market.

KC wrote recently about the most important insights he gained from the conference. He raises an interesting point about branding, it is not only something for customers but for internal audiences as well:

Utility leaders also spoke about brand as being key to acquiring and retaining the talent they need to build a culture that can support the various types of transformation their businesses are undergoing.

KC sat down in the studio for a chat with Ade to discuss further about his expertise in marketing and energy branding.