Tag Archives: energy branding

Building a trusted utility brand

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. At CHARGE 2016, 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.

Neville Ravji – CEO Volterra Energy

Among CHARGE2017 keynote speakers is Neville Ravji, CEO of Volterra Neville Ravji Discount PowerEnergy 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.”

Video from the 2016 CHARGE Awards

The CHARGE 2016 Energy Branding conference reached its high mark at the CHARGE Awards dinner at the Blue Lagoon where the world’s best energy brands were rewarded for their contribution to branding in the energy space. For the first CHARGE awards, 80 energy brands from around the world were shortlisted by an international panel of energy, marketing and branding experts. 15 energy brands in three categories were finally nominated after a thorough screening process. The categories for the world’s first energy branding awards were Best Energy Brand, Best Green Energy Brand and Best Transmission or distribution Energy Brand.

For the first two categories, the brands were chosen from a score that was a combination of customer surveys, a panel of expert and an independent analysis of their competitive environment. The Transmission and distribution category was decided solely by a verdict from the panel.

All of the nominated brands have made their move from the traditional energy utility is perceived to being perceived as brands. Although all the energy brands were nominated due to their outstanding branding strategy that is reflected in great marketing programs, high aspirations, satisfied and engaged customers and inspiring case studies – there could be only one winner in each category.

Check out the video below to see highlights from the CHARGE 2016 Energy Branding Awards event and interviews with representatives from the winning brands.

 

 

How to be the green brand in a 100% renewable market

Iceland is one of the few countries in the world that can boast of having all of its energy generated from 100% renewable and sustainable sources. Electricity is generated from hydro dams and geothermal plants and almost all hot water comes from geothermal sources.

Green energy has been the most popular differentiation tool for retailers in liberated markets for the last decades. For a retailer in Iceland it can be a challenge to be perceived as the green brand. Áslaug Thelma Einarsdóttir, managing director of marketing at ON Energy gave insights on how the company met the challenge of rebranding and positioning itself as the leading sustainable brand.

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.