Distinctive communication, effective segmentation, customer satisfaction, positive customer experience and a well rounded, differentiated brand have all become critical components to the modern utility.
The product is no longer a means to an end. It is an experience and the consumer will be affected by the quality of that experience. Consequently, utilities now need to look outside their internal environment and place a higher emphasis on more modern touchpoints with consumers.
A suitable toolkit to do just that is the brand. However, as with other commodities, branding is often not perceived as important as it should be. But how can you brand electricity?
The short answer is to acknowledge that branding is an integral part of your business and that every organization is involved in branding whether it is voluntarily or not. By differentiating a commodity, at the source, service level, or anywhere in between, you create a brand which must then be integrated with the entire organization.
An example of a recent brand reinvention is E.ON. After introducing a number of new products in 2016 and previous internal infrastructure modifications, E.ON turned to its brand the following year. The company refurbished the E.ON brand to act on a gap between everchanging consumer needs and the company’s current brand and communication strategy.
Changing consumer perception through sustainability
An emphasis on leadership is prominent in the firm’s corporate strategy which naturally is complemented by innovation and customer-centricity. Another prominent emphasis of E.ON is the quest for sustainable solutions, which can easily be seen in the company’s new product offerings.
It is precisely on the sustainable front where E.ON is, with purpose-driven efforts, trying to change how the brand is perceived. With advertisements that are largely atypical from energy companies, E.ON is slowly reversing the negative perception of being ‘just another utility’ to a brand working to achieve a sustainable future.
“Our new E.ON brand reflects a new scope direction and emotional approach and we also adopt a challenger mentality. We are comfortable with change, but also driven to succeed. Happy to be bold, and also, happy to be focused on where we need to take our business to make a better tomorrow”Emma Inston – Global Head of Brand and Costumer Communication, E.ON
Distinctive communication and personalization
Distinctive communication is central to the new E.ON brand. Advertisements showcase the amazing elements and possibilities of energy to trigger a surprise-delight response while simultaneously showing customers what the company is capable of.
The above example is one of E.ON’s advertisements published under the new brand. The emotional approach and boldness is obvious, resulting in an attention-grabbing and immersive 96 seconds of what you could easily mistake for a scene from Mad Max.
Lastly, E.ON did not fail to focus on personalized energy solutions. The company has dedicated campaigns to introduce and advertise each energy solution individually. Instead of offering a one-size fits all solutions, E.ON does not only discover but understands customer needs across all segments globally.
The new brand has generated impressive results. An article by MarketingWeek mentions a 94% shift in perception from a “boring utility company” to an “enabler of amazing energy solutions”. Further, brand interest has expanded significantly both domestically and internationally. All of this is an indicator of how important branding is, even to a commodity good such as electricity. Brand is, in essence, a story. People react to stories and seek out the good ones. Ultimately, it is the best stories that spread most widely, are told the most, and leave the biggest impact.