When preparing for his presentation in the track on the branding of sustainable energy, search engines turned Ayoola Brimmo to the CHARGE website. In the introduction of the presentation, he noted that this was the only place to discuss how to successfully brand sustainability.
A brand needs to take a look at the past to be able to build towards the future was the key point to take from Ayoola Brimmo’s lecture at CHARGE 2016. Ayoola works at the Nordic Innovation hub in Abu Dhabi and used the case of Dubai as an example of a city brand that has become more valuable due to a strategic brand building that focuses on the perception of luxury. Another example of a city brand that has been developed in the Emirates is Masdar City. When Dubai is the luxury city brand, Masdar takes footing as a luxury brand but goes further to differentiating itself by focusing on the sustainability of the city. Even though sustainability has become sort of a buzzword in the last decade, Masdar has yet to become a city brand with a worldwide recognition.
Energy utilities are facing a new, different world. The deregulation and unbundling of markets, privatisation and different ways of generating electricity on a mass scale have all shaken the reality of the energy companies. The energy companies are also facing a new challenge; the customer. The customer has the tools of mass information and mass communication in his pocket and has more choices of interaction with brands than ever in history.
Giuseppe Caltabiano is the Vice President of Marketing Integration at Schneider Electric. He gave a presentation on how content marketing and social media are changing the way brands communicate to customers. He went over the basics of storytelling in the new media and what type of content consumers seek out.
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.
From Norway, Bente Engesland, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communication at Statkraft delivered a presentation on how fast times are changing in energy and how impactful the changing environment is for the energy space. The traditional energy companies are faced with more disruptive changes in the next five years than in the preceding 50 years. Bente mentioned three big factors having a lasting effect on the energy utilities; population growth, environmental factors and technological factors.
Although Statkraft has strong tradition of producing green energy, the company is facing similar challenges as other energy producers around the world; communicating with stakeholders and the public.
It is time for the utilities to shift their messaging in social media. From primarily sending messages about outages, utilities need to add an emphasis on customer relationships. Tamara McCleary CEO Thulium gave a lecture on the importance of utilities becoming personal and drive the conversation towards a more human interaction. The data utilities have today give them a unique opportunity to know the customer better – energy companies need to stop talking to customer but must start a conversation with them.
The American retail electricity market is a mixed bag when it comes to the variety of companies and markets operating in the country. A majority of the states are yet to liberalise their markets while others have mature liberalised markets and others are in different stages of liberalisation. KC Boyce is the product director at Market Strategies International. MSI has created a methodology to measure brand trust in the US electric market and KC went over the brand trust index and showed some examples of how electricity companies in the US have been able to establish more consumer trust.
Among CHARGE2017 keynote speakers is Neville Ravji, CEO of Volterra Energy in Houston, Texas. Neville has been working in the energy industry since 1997 and co-founded Tara Energy in 2002 when energy deregulation was beginning to take hold in Texas.
Neville has strived to bring energy to consumers through a bottom-up approach that involves understanding customer needs by creating macro and micro segments and then providing products that meet these needs and backing them with a fanatical focus on top-notch customer service. Under his leadership, Volterra Energy is successfully executing a multi-brand strategy aimed at various niches, with a special focus on the South Asian market. The company’s brands include Discount Power, Power Express and Volterra Energy.
The products and services offered by Volterra Energy have made them one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. “By its very nature, the product we sell has no distinguishable physical characteristics – so it is very important to be able to differentiate ourselves by creating intangible attributes that appeal to our customers. At Volterra, we have managed to do this very successfully, mainly because of a very experienced and talented team that understands the customer very well. I am looking forward to speaking to my industry peers at CHARGE and sharing our story.”
Dr. Fridrik Larsen chairman of CHARGE Energy Branding Conference said “Volterra Energy is among the few energy companies in the world that have done an outstanding job in identifying segments that they understand and can relate to. The conference is about how energy companies need to connect to the minds and hearts of consumers to be able to participate in the market today and Volterra and its brands are a great example of this.”