A shared language for smart energy

We focus on helping the energy industry to communicate efficiently with the tools of branding. An obstacle for the energy industry and the clean energy industry is to translate highly technical terms into a relatable language. It is a challenge for an industry focused on engineering and innovation to communicate to people outside the sector but it can also be a challenge for people within the industry to communicate with people in other sectors of the industry and for different systems to speak a common language.

“If smart integrated energy infrastructures should make sense, it is necessary to find a standard language […] used in residential installations so that different systems can seamlessly communicate together to exploit any surplus or loss of energy throughout the smart energy system between energy producers and distributors.” Benny Hansen, ABB

Smart Energy and the Smart City are not only the concern of vendors and city officials but require the participation of regular people, the end customer. The democratisation of energy with distributed generation and prosumers are only an example of how Smart Energy is much more than smart lighting and smart thermostats. The Clean Energy Industry is becoming aware of the interplay between marketing and energy in general and energy company branding in particular.

A CHARGE Energy Branding event will take place in Copenhagen on the 25th of May, focusing on how we can create a shared language to communicate smart energy. A smart language that is easily understood by stakeholders within the industry and outside of the industry. The event is one of many utilities and energy events related to the Nordic Clean Energy Week and is one of the events that take place in the Energy Experience in Nordhavn.

Speakers

Dr. Fridrik Larsen brings a theoretical angle and practical experience on how a common understanding of simple words is important and why branding energy creates value for all stakeholders.

Jane Mortensen, City & Port – Copenhagen Municipality brings the perspective of the owners/ municipality on effective communication.

“In collaboration with City, Suppliers, Technicians and Development, the Energy Lab Nordhavn demo platform has succeed in creating synergy between the diverse partners and testing new technology in new city areas”. – Jane Mortensen

Kristian Honoré from HOFOR has the perspective of the Energy Planner. He has the experience on how different energy forms play together, the challenges and how a common understanding can be important for integration.

”In the EnergyLab Nordhavn project SMART energy services and innovation is deliberately challenged by daily operations, legislation and resilience – and vice versa – to pave the way for new and realistic solutions and products”. – Kristian Honoré

Rune Kirt from KIRTxTHOMSEN brings examples of how to create a common language in complex energy tech and clean tech projects in research and development.

“Innovation circles in energy are long and costly. High technical complexity and many stakeholders/partners in early R&D often lead to a lack of shared understanding. Customized visualizations can make everyone on the same page fast, thus bridging the gap between technology and business, engineering and management, ideas and money. Aligning key stakeholders from early stage and throughout the process”. – Rune Kirt

Martin Gammeltoft from Activity Stream is experienced in working with clear and accessible communication. He will share stories on what works in communicating technical language to many different external stakeholders.

Where: Energy.Hub Nordhavn (Directions)
When: Friday, May 25th at 9:00 – 10:30

Attendance is free but registration is required through the form here.

 

 

 

Next level Energy Branding

The best brands in the energy sector work hard, deliver superior value, look outside the energy space, segment their customers, are data driven and are on a mission of changing the status quo.

By reviewing the branding case studies from the World’s Best Energy Brands we have learned a great deal about how the best energy brands in the world view themselves and how energy company branding can go to the next level. There is a common thread among the best energy brands in the world. It does not only apply to the competitive retail sector – it also applies to the regulated energy sectors both in retail, transmission of electricity, distribution of electricity and it should apply to B2B energy retail companies as well as generation companies.

There are no shortcuts towards a superior brand

People often wonder if there is a good life-hack or a shortcut to achievement. So, is there a good life-hack for creating a good brand in the energy sector? The short answer is: No – there are no shortcuts. Creating a good energy brand takes a great deal of effort. Even if you know the secret to creating the very best power brand in the world and even if you were born with the secret to energy marketing in your head – creating, implementing and running an effective brand in the energy sector is still hard work.

 

The best Energy Brands offer something else than energy

They offer an experience. They have a simple message about the benefit they offer that no one else offers. And the benefit is usually not the price or being able to deliver electricity on time. It’s usually a feeling in the mind of the consumer that they own. Apple and Nike are well-known branding and marketing reference point clichés for a reason. They own a share of the consumer’s mind – and that is what you need to own a share of the market.

They look outside the energy box

The best brands are not focused on the next door utility neighbour and try to copy their best practices. Although many brands in the global energy market are doing great things branding vice, the best brands in the world are not found in the energy space. You should look outside the box and identify who is the best in the world and learn from them and apply it to the energy sector and your market. Don’t think about which brand is the best employer brand amongst energy companies – look for the best employer brand in the world. Don’t just try to learn from the best customer service brand among utilities, look for the company that offers the best customer service period.

The best energy brands use segmentation tools

It’s almost impossible to be like by everyone. Instead, you should use the appropriate tools to segment the market. The most simple tool to use is demographics. But you can’t go in blind and decide to be the brand for single women aged 26-37 living in a certain area with this high yearly revenue. You need to know why this group is the right one for your brand and your value offering. It is often said that typical demographical groups are dead – people can’t be put into categories based on gender, age or where they live. There are multiple tools that segment that market based on more things than on demographics. Find the groups that your brand speaks to and figure out how to speak to them.

The best energy brands are customer oriented

Customer engagement is not about smart gadgets. It comes naturally when a brand speaks to the customers on a personal level and connects to them on an emotional level. The smart gadgets help but if there is nothing that connects to the customer other than a socket on the wall or some hardware, then there is no chance of communication. The best brands have created an emotional value that can be hard for competitors to compete with.

The best energy brands measure up

We have established that good branding is about knowing the customer. But good branding is about knowing yourself. What you stand for and what your brand is capable to do. But you need to know where your brand stands and where it stands in the minds of your customers. The best energy brands are constantly measuring how they are doing and benchmarking with other brands. They are not afraid to reach out proactively to customers and ask them what they think – this is not done once a year – it can be once a month or even once a week.

The best brands are on a mission

They offer superior brand value by offering something unique and different from others in the sector. That superior value stems from a specific brand mission – they are not just selling energy – they are often trying to change the world. A good example of good branding is in the green energy sector. Today, almost every supplier has started to become green. So green has become the new black in energy and it’s hard to differentiate based on the green origin of the energy alone. Superior green brands today have to dig deeper and be sustainable to the core and offer customers a buy-in towards a vision of the future.

A Sustainable Competitive Advantage

Imagine that in 30 years, sales of energy will become a small part of the value created by energy and the image created by energy production would create just as much or even more value.

Energy can become a valuable ingredient in nation branding. Nation- or place branding is a difficult task since it is about finding something that is unique for a country and millions of people can align themselves with. This brand essence is something that visitors to the country should experience and products originating from the country can use as a frame of reference in their branding.

CHARGE Energy Branding held an event recently in Reykjavik regarding Iceland as a country brand and a country of origin for brands. The subject of the event was Sustainable energy and Competitive advantage. It was the first of smaller events related to CHARGE Energy Branding. These events are meant for local business communities and energy clusters to discuss specific topics related to their operations. The next event will take place in Copenhagen on the 25th of May. The subject of the event is Creating a shared language for Smart Energy – to accelerate Green Transition. Further information and registration can be found by following this link.

The aim of the event in Reykjavik was to bring together people from different corners of the Icelandic economy to discuss energy branding and how the image of Iceland as a country of clean, renewable energy can increase the value of products and services in Iceland. Could the sustainable image of Iceland be a competitive advantage for Icelandic companies?

What is a Competitive Advantage?

Michael Porter coined the term Competitive Advantage in 1980’s. The term refers to what it is that makes goods or services superior to all other choices customers have. Porter considered there to be three determinants of Competitive Advantage, Benefit, Target Market and Competition. Success is determined by how good you are in articulating the benefit to the target market and convince them that the benefit is better than the competition.

For a company to succeed, it must create clear goals, strategies and operations to build a sustainable competitive advantage. Corporate culture and the values of employees must align with the goals.

For a nation to create a sustainable competitive advantage, it would require a push from every stakeholder and unite them under the same values and goals. To discuss the potential were representatives from the office responsible for the image of Iceland abroad, a branding expert from an advertising agency, aluminium CEO and a seafood CEO.

The event was presented and moderated by Dr. Friðrik Larsen, CEO of LarsEn Energy Branding and the Chairman of CHARGE. He opened up by saying that nation branding is a choice but by choosing not to brand, people are choosing to waste one of the most valuable naturals resources.

First to present was Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir from Visit Iceland. She talked about the strategy of building the country brand Iceland. Visit Iceland was initially focused on building the nation brand in relations to tourism but then started to include Iceland as a country-of-origin-brand in their marketing message. Energy is a large factor in the image of Iceland with 97% of foreign visitors agree that they are positive towards the use of renewables in Iceland.

Viggó Örn Jónsson, creative director of Jónsson & Le’macks looked at the possibilities of leveraging Iceland’s renewables in the nation’s image even further in the story-telling of the nation brand of Iceland. He stated that products that use terms such as Organic, Fair Trade and Sustainable have become the luxury products of the Western World. International household brands are starting to look more closely at every aspect of their value chain to make sure that every link can meet the demands of consumers today. Iceland has a unique opportunity to become a luxury brand through storytelling. “We have this magic island where everything is powered by 100% clean energy people use volcanoes to heat their homes and power their kitchens”. But the challenge is to create a simple, clear story that everyone, cross-sectors, can tell. In Viggó’s opinion, everyone is selling the same product – the image of the country.

Next up was Ragnar Guðmundsson, CEO of Norðurál which is part of Century Aluminium. Ragnar’s company proudly states that they make the World’s Greenest aluminium. Just as Viggó pointed out – big global brands are looking at every way to green their value chain. While he makes the greenest aluminium in the world – it is hard for large global brands to make such claims since there is not yet a branded gold (or aluminium) standard for green aluminium. A green stamp of origin for aluminium is being developed and Ragnar hopes that within two years, aluminium producers will be able to differentiate their product and create a competitive advantage with the source of energy as a branded ingredient.

Guðmundur Kristjánsson gave the last presentation. Guðmundur is the CEO of Brim Seafood, the largest seafood company in Iceland. Guðmundur pointed out that there are many things that other sectors could learn from the Icelandic seafood sector. And indeed, he is correct. Iceland is one of the few countries in the world with sustainable fishing stocks – due to the transferable quota system. As Guðmundur pointed out – 30 years ago the country would fish twice the amount of today. Today, however, the revenue of the fisheries is twice the amount it was 30 years ago when the quota system was implemented. Instead of throwing away by-products and just keeping the fillets, the fishing industry is utilising every part of the fish caught and is not focusing only on fish as a food product. Fishing in Iceland has become an innovative high-tech industry that is not only focusing on the core commodity.

For energy, it might be put this way: Iceland is today throwing away an image that energy production produces just like it did with various parts of the fish 30 years ago.