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Engerati Energy Branding Webinar S01E02

The second of the Energy Branding webinars will be tomorrow at 13:00 UTC on Engerati. The title of the webinar is Branding Intangible Commodities – The Big Energy Question and you can follow it here for free, either live or on demand.

The main issues covered are the following:

  • Branding tangible vs intangible commodities
  • Beyond retail – branding transmission and distribution
  • Cities & countries as energy brands
  • Consumer engagement towards sustainability goals

Participants in this episode are:

Alexander Richter – Founder and Principal Think GeoEnergy
Birgir Danielsson – Creative Director LarsEn Energy Branding
Sigurður Árnason – Conference Executive CHARGE – Energy Branding Conference

Watch it live or enjoy later – free but requires registration.

Opportunities in emerging energy markets

Emerging markets usually refrains to nations in rapid growth that are catching up to become developed nations. Many of those countries have opened up to the idea of a liberalized economy and are reaping the benefits. These countries have a growing middle class and are full of opportunities for savvy investors. There is though and underdeveloped consumer market much closer to home that savvy investors and innovative entrepreneurs have found opportunities to exploit.

That is the electricity market. Though it has been liberalized in most countries for some time, consumers are yet to experience the full benefit of a deregulated market. Besides New Zealand and Australia – liberalized energy markets are rather underdeveloped in terms of modern marketing activities and especially branding.

Established companies have been fighting off niche newcomers by spending enormous amounts on big campaigns and new logos to appear as fresh as the newcomers and mimicking products and ideas. But they have slowly come to realize that more effort is needed. Marketing is not considered something that you have to do to remind consumers that you exist – but rather to form deeper bonds with current customers and for relations with future customers.

Though the branding-environment is improving – a lot is still to achieve. That opens up a gap for newcomers to fill up with better engagement and stronger relationships with consumers. Branding is not about shouting at consumers that your brand loves them – branding is about the end result of listening to consumers say that they love the brand.

 

Branding the energy utility

When rebranding – utilities have to be careful in utilizing their current strengths and find ways to address their weaknesses. Branding is a far deeper process than simply changing the name and the logo on the electric bill. It’s not about stationary or trying to pop up the marketing material. Utilities that suddenly try to look “branded” are really the awkward uncle that shows up late at the party, 20 years past his bedtime.

For a very long time, electricity was generated, transmitted and distributed by the same type of company, the utility. It would be wrong to say that electricity was sold since buying electricity did not evolve a voluntary trade, there was no persuasion on part of the utilities – consumers didn’t have a choice – no one was involved in voluntary trade – the utility had to supply the customer with power as long as the bill was paid and the consumer had to buy electricity from the monopoly.

The real energy marketing did not come from the utility but from the companies selling and manufacturing electronics – Commodore 64 is more responsible for demand than any electric utility ever was. The eight bit Sid chip soundtrack of the 80’s was powered by the utilities but consumers were trying to keep up with the Commodore.

The utility had to engage begrudgingly with the consumer twice a year to read from the meter in the garage and by sending out the bill. The consumer wasn’t looking forward to interactions with the utility, if they didn’t respond to the bill by paying they would pay even more or if they did respond, they had a full day ahead of a service center Kafkaesque experience ahead of them.

Marketing the energy utility requires branding to be successful, worth the resources and create a return on investment. But the utility has to be careful and the brand must be true to the positive perception points it has in the consumers’ minds while attending to the perception of a lack of concern. It will be easier for outsiders to enter the market with a powerful brand and new thinking than it is for the old utilities but perception can be changed and that is what will be discussed in Iceland in September.

Energy Branding Webinar series

We are pleased to announce that we will be doing a live webinar series over at Engerati to promote the conference and to introduce some of our speakers. To be able to attend the webinars, a free signup is required.

Tune in to learn in depth how branding and the resulting marketing of electricity differs from bananas, soda and telecommunications. Learn how consumer power will transform the industry, whether it is the retail side of energy, how branding can apply to the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.

There are four webinars scheduled and a complete overview can be found here.

May 20th: Branding Electricity vs Branding Consumers Goods
May 26th: Branding Intangible Commodities – The Big Energy Question
June 1st: Defining the Next Generation Energy Brand – 21st Century DNA
June 9th: Brand power, shared values and clean energy – An American Perspective

If you can’t wait, you can listen to Dr. Larsen’s webinar on Energy Branding here.

Branding – the future of energy

The freedom of choice in energy is more now than it has been since Edison first lid the streets and homes of the world. For most part of the 1900‘s the only regular engagement between consumers and their utility happened once a year when a person showed up to read from a meter in the basement. The point of this once a year meeting was not to meet the consumer – the utility was concerned with the meter. The direct consumer engagement the utilities were concerned with were unilateral – a letter stating how much was owed to the utility.

The utilities belong in the 1900’s – Energy Branding is the mindset of the 21st century.  Today the consumer has choice when shopping for electricity. Many of them are unaware of the choice or are afraid to choose. Being free to choose is difficult after a century of no choice between a monopoly and being left in the cold and dark. Energy branding needs special insights to heal the scars left by bad service, lack of engagement and powerlessness.

No brand is greater than its perception in the mind of the consumer. Every brand is defined by the consumer and the role it plays in consumers’ minds and hearts. Branding is a mutual benefit, it creates tangible value for the company and intangible value for the customer. The first key to understand branding is to learn to understand the consumer.

Following liberalization energy retailers started carving out niches to challenge the big utilities. The niches turned out to be two: green and cheap. It is hard to maintain leadership in both categories – almost everyone is green today and nobody wants to be the cheapest but everyone offers competitive prices.

Branding is a great way to achieve something great. To get the most out of the brand, marketing is needed to deliver a message to consumers and stakeholders. A well implemented brand needs to plan its message through different channels of traditional media and social media.
As the lights are dying out for the utilities, a new generation of energy is emerging. Innovators and entrepreneurs are coming up with new ways to generate electricity and a new generation of entrepreneurs and executives is emerging with brave new ideas and brave new brands that are willing to try new ways to appeal to consumers. The future is diversity of the source of energy, the future is a diverse group of people. The future is diversity of business models, the future belongs to energy brands.

Five bulletproof ways to lose the jetlag

No matter how short or long the distance, travelling to new places leaves you a bit disoriented. It’s important to enter our conference with a sharp and focused mind so we have gathered some bullet-proof tips to clear your mind and enjoy Reykjavik like the locals do. If you arrive the day before or few days earlier, a great way to get a feel of the small fishing village that exploded quickly into a small but spread out city.

 

The cats of the historical west-side

One of the oldest part of town is the historical west-side. With wooden houses clad with colorful corrugated iron and few old farmhouses, the residential area next to the harbor is full of domesticated cats. Most cats are allowed to wander outside as they please to much joy of the local children of all ages and tourists alike. Feel free to pet them and take a photo – it’s a proven fact that pictures of cats get more social media engagement. The Icelandic cat is becoming a celebrity on social media – official hashtag is #catsofreykjavik

Bathe in geothermal water

To take off your shoes and make fists with your toes was made immortal by Bruce Willis but we recommend a really hot shower or a long bath when you arrive at your hotel. 90% of heating in Iceland comes from geothermal water and plenty of it. For a more unique Icelandic experience there are always the outdoor communal pools.

The Burger joint

You will be hungry like a bear in the spring after a trip to the swimming pool. A must is fast food down by the harbour. After introducing the hamburger to Iceland in the 70’s, running a Hard Rock café in Reykjavik and operating the oldest and finest hotel in the city – chef Tommi went back to basics by opening up a burger joint in the downtown harbor area. With a franchise that spawns across Europe now, the Burger Joint had humble beginnings in a small triangular building. The secret of the success is simple, no bells or whistles, just the best burgers in town.

Valdís Ice cream parlor

Take a walk along the harbor to watch the ships and make a stop at the ice cream parlor Valdís. Proving that there is more to a product than the commodity, ice cream is enjoyed in Iceland all year long with lines forming outside ice cream parlors despite frost or heavy rain. This parlor is situated in the gourmet district of Reykjavik and has a new twist on the typical Icelandic ice cream parlor, offering the finest Italian style ice cream in the city

 

Aurora walk

While you are burning the ingested calories while gathering your thoughts, a nice walk is the perfect supplement after a meal. We suggest a nice walk to the lighthouse of Grótta, situated in the small Seltjarnarnes municipality west of Reykjavik. Only a half hour walk along the coastline from downtown Reykjavik – you have an excellent chance of seeing the stars and the northern lights on the clear night sky. Be careful to check the tide tables so you don’t get stranded when the tide rolls on in.

The possibilities of branded energy

The possibilities of branding within the energy sector are enormous. Not only for retail but other aspects as the origin of energy, the natural monopoly as well as using the source of energy to create brand value for other products. Here are few of the areas we will cover in September in Iceland at CHARGE – The World’s First Energy Branding Conference.

From the merchant to the aisles of the supermarket

While most brands we know today used to be mere commodities sold by the pound over the counter by the merchant – electricity is still mostly sold by the kilowatt-hour by the utility. To understand why branding is a necessary step in evolution in energy, it is important to look first at branding in the general context. Though the basics of branding are the same for electricity and bananas, there are key differences needed to approach the consumer.

Active listening

A brand is never more powerful than its ability to communicate its meaning to consumers and decipher communication from consumers. Being able to talk to the consumer has been considered easier with new mediums and social media popping up everywhere but the task to deliver a relevant message that resonates above all the clutter has become more difficult. In a similar manner it has become easier to hear multiple stakeholders voices but the task of engaging in a relevant conversation can be a tricky task for energy companies.

Commodity and monopoly branding

Creative thinking can create engagement for consumer for once considered mundane commodities such as salt and water and how services such as telecommunications became the hottest thing since sliced bread. Branding applies to the natural monopolies as well. With the rise of the prosumer, the monopolies are not only transmitting to the end consumer but receiving from them as well and this two way relationship requires two way communication as well.

Energy Marketing requires a brand

For any energy marketing effort to be fruitful, a powerful brand is needed as foundation for efficiency. A brand that has full organizational support is proven to spill over to all aspects of the operation, be it payroll, the service center or attracting the most qualified candidates for open positions. Efficiency in energy can never be fully realized without a brand mentality.

The origin effect

Soon, electricity will be known for its origins, a city or province or even a country will give a stamp of quality for the energy produced there. How can the origin of electricity create more value for consumers?

Updating the utility

While most retail industries went through radical transformations in the last century, electricity is still mostly sold and delivered today as it was when Edison lit up the world. Groceries, media, music and airlines have all been disrupted and distributed in radical new ways with advances and innovation in technology and updated business models.

The utility of the 1900’s is still the dominant business model but will soon be run over by the energy brand of the 21st century. The energy brands are not only updating the business model according to advances in technology but are connecting to the minds and hearts of the customers in ways the utilities have not been able to think of.

Welcome to the world’s first Energy Branding Conference

We welcome you to Iceland in September for CHARGE – The World’s First Energy Branding Conference.

Energy is on the threshold of change, not caused by smart technology, solar or efficiency but consumer power. The theme of the conference is how consumers are going to choose the provider that knows them best and can communicate with them at a personal level, beyond the meter reading and the electric bill.

At the core of every successful company is branding, the process of understanding the consumer better than the competitors. Marketing will always be less efficient without a coherent brand strategy guiding the way, smart technology is underutilized without deep understanding of the consumer and how the company should use it in harmony with consumer perception.

The conference has already gathered an exciting list of speakers who understand branding and marketing and who understand how electricity differs from other commodities due to consumers perception of the product and the companies that have historically provided it.

Guests will not only enjoy two days of inspiring lectures and keynotes but will be able to enjoy one of the wonders of the modern world, the Blue Lagoon thermal spa that utilizes water from a thermal plant to create a unique experience in the middle of a lava field. Afterwards, guests will attend a gala dinner where the CHARGE awards will be presented to the best energy brands in the world.

Register now – the early bird offer ends June 2nd.