Tag Archives: marketing

Stedin – the customer centric DSO

One of the first speakers that were recruited for CHARGE 2016 was Marko Kruithof from Stedin in the Netherlands. Stedin is a DSO that services 3 of the 4 largest cities in the Netherlands; The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

Marko gave his presentation during the transmission and distribution session in Reykjavik last September. The future of energy is changing fast for the regulated monopolies as well as retailers operating in a competition environment. As Marko says, Stedin has installed around 30.000 charging points for electric cars in the last few years to meet the demand generated by the 100.000 electric vehicles on the roads in the Netherlands.

The consumer should be our fan; he pays our salaries

Stedin received the CHARGE Awards as the World’s Best Energy brand in their category and it is not a coincidence. Branding is at the core of the company’s strategy and vision – they are not only looking at the needs of the consumer of today but try to be prepared and anticipate the needs of the consumer of tomorrow. Stedin has centralized the customer but focus their branding programme also internally to have everyone in line with their mission.

Marko’s full presentation from Reykjavik at CHARGE 2016 can be viewed in the player below.

 

 

 

 

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.

The Role of Branding in the Retail Energy Sector

One of the more interesting energy brands to hit the retail energy market in Germany is Shell PrivatEnergie. The company behind the brand is the UK’s largest challenger to the Big Six, First Utility. First Utility entered the market utilizing one of the largest known brands in the energy world, Shell – with over 100 years of brand recognition in the German market and around 2.000 retail outlets. The German market has over 1.400 electricity retailers and is one of the most active energy markets in the world.

Maik Neubauer, CEO of First Utility in Germany is responsible for the Shell PrivatEnergie offering and participated in the Understanding the Energy Consumer track of the conference. He went over the Shell case; which elements of the brands were transferred to the electric energy brand and how to create a credible quality energy brand that is trusted by the energy consumer.

 

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.

T&D needs B&I

Branding does not only apply to utilities in the competitive part of the energy market. Though the transmission and distribution grids have a monopoly on delivering energy to the end consumer, management within those companies are becoming more and more aware of the importance of creating a valuable brand rather than running an arrogant utility.

That is why T&D needs more B&I (Branding & Innovation.

The monopolies are at risk of losing bits of the base of their service; providing homes with an access to electricity. With advances in technology, more and more homeowners have the choice of never connecting to the grid. There needs to be a reason for a new home being connected to the grid. If the choice is between paying to be connected to the grid or paying a similar amount to set up an on-roof generation with free power, there is no reason to connect at all. A distributor that has a clear value proposition and a clear marketing message for the consumer has a better chance of being relevant in the mind of the consumer.

T&D’s that are suddenly faced with a growing number of prosumers need to realise their changed role and need to know how to communicate with end consumers. The prosumer is not an energy professional and technical terms need to be made understandable and clear for the regular prosumer.

There will be a track dedicated to the branding of transmission and distribution. The speakers we have gathered will each present their case on why branding is important for their operations and their presentations will be followed by a panel discussion. The companies they represent have somewhat different roles in their communities but they all play their roles through a powerful and well-crafted brands. The track will include Marko Kruithof – Director of Innovation at Stedin (Netherlands), Helle Andersen – Head of communication at Energinet (Denmark), Fintan Slye – CEO of Eirgrid (Ireland) and Jukka Ruusunen – CEO of Fingrid (Finland).

helle andersenfintan slyejukka ruusunenmarko kruithof

The conference will conclude at the Blue Lagoon with a dinner and an awards ceremony. We will be awarding the best energy brand within the T&D sector to put the spotlight on brands that are an example of great branding.

Charge-logo-awards-negative-bg-RGB

Remember to sign up for CHARGE which will take place in Iceland, September 19th-20th. You can find more info on www.branding.energy

Transforming from Utility to Energy Brand

Dr. Friðrik Larsen (FL), of LarsEn Energy Branding and KC Boyce (KCB) of Market Strategies International sat down for a chat on Energy Branding and marketing efforts of utilities. This is an excerpt, the article originally appeared on the Market Strategies International Blog. Both Friðrik and KC will be delivering keynote addresses at CHARGE Energy Branding Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland next September.

(KCB) In the US, we’ve identified six factors that drive consumers’ brand trust: customer focus, company reputation & advocacy, communication effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental performance and community outreach. How does this compare to what you see elsewhere in the world?

(FL) These factors are similar to my own qualitative research findings done throughout Europe, both in areas with a long history of liberalized energy markets as well as newly or soon-to-be deregulated eastern European markets. What differs between countries is what consumers expect from the utilities and consumers’ varied understanding of the underlying concepts. For example, consumers in Iceland are used to hydropower and consider nuclear to be a dirty energy source. However, Eastern European countries—that only know dirty coal (in terms of everything in the country being covered in a layer of ash)—consider nuclear to be a green source of energy.

(KCB) What can utilities do to improve their company’s reputation among consumers?

Utilities need a more brand-minded, customer-centric strategy. That can prove to be difficult, especially for bigger utilities, but it’s very important to be honest and credible in communications. For instance, oftentimes a utility tries to make connections to certain imagery in the consumers’ mind, but the consumer is given no choice to understand why that utility should be connected to that imagery.

Here‘s an example: Before rebranding in 2008, British Gas was losing 40,000 electricity customers each month. This old behemoth identified its strengths in the consumers‘ minds as well as its faults inside the organization. After a 2009 rebranding, British Gas saw lower churn rates among existing customers and was attracting new customers. The brand became more resilient towards bad PR as well. This was the result of increased customer affinity, positive perception and improved attitudes towards the brand. It is a really interesting market, and I find it fascinating to watch that energy branding ecosystem develop, with established players trying to evolve and newcomers trying new approaches to become dominant.

[…]

This is an excerpt, For the full article see the original post on the MSI blog 

Iceland: EURO2016 most valuable brand

Wanting to win the European cup describes a small mentality. The UEFA tournament is of course the silly season for the real thing – the World Cup in two years. Sour grapes aside, it is last chance to jump the Team Iceland bandwagon before it comes to a halt – let’s see how we can look at the Icelandic football team in terms of brands and branding. This year’s fan favorite team has some things in common with successful brands.

„When you are only No. 2, you try harder. Or else“

16_image_3

It’s often harder to be the best, you are on top and the only way from there is down. Being the underdog means that you have everything to win, competing against Iceland has meant that you are at best defeating… Iceland. Avis recognized that it was a strength by being number 2 and used it as a part of their positioning. It’s often easier to compete when you can gain a position rather than defending it.

Customer engagement

A great brand does not have customers – it has fans. A sports team has fans but they are quick to turn against their teams if they disappoint.  The Icelandic team makes the effort to engage with their fans. Before every match, the coach meets with the fan club to go over the starting 11 (before it’s official) and how the team will approach the game. After each match, the players give applause to the fans and cheers with them. By doing that, the team recognizes the importance of their fans.

Brand identity

CmdjdsQWEAAh6Po

A brand can choose its identity and it can even assume a country of origin or decide to be without one. The country of origin part is difficult when a national sports team is the brand in question. Brands can often refer to their heritage. For the Icelandic team, there is of course no direct brand heritage in relations to football. For a brand without a heritage, there is always the option of finding indirect connections for a brand heritage. The Icelandic team gets associated with their presumed Viking warrior heritage. That association is perfect for a contact sport; fearless warriors that keep on fighting against all odds; it is OK to win the battle but the real champions and best warriors are chosen by Odin to die in battle and ascent to Valhalla to fight among legends. The team appeared to be a band of berserker brothers fighting for honor, tattooed, bearded and long hair.

Good results require years and decades of hard work

Fylkisvöllur, og Árbæjarlaug, Árbæjarhverfi, Reykjavik Fylkir sport grounds, Arbaer swimmingpool, Reykjavik

This point is not branding specific but important for any brand. Being successful requires hard work. Forget the legend of warm and cozy indoor soccer halls with artificial grass that are supposed to be integral for the development of Icelandic football players. Most players in the team could train on 3rd class artificial grass once a week during the winter. The only indoor facilities they could train on were meant for handball or horses. They would run outside in rain, frost and (always) against the wind. They would develop their sliding tackles skills on gravel fields made from crushed lava. Success does not come easy and sometimes success is the result of years of plucking sand and small pebbles from a bleeding ulcer after a great tackle.