CHARGE meets Joachim ter Haar, Managing Partner, Skriptor Zigila

As we approach CHARGE Europe (23-24 October), we’ve been asking our top speakers and partners to reveal their approach to branding in energy. In this article, we speak to Joachim ter Haar, Managing Partner, Skriptor Zigila

What do you think are the main challenges for energy companies regarding branding and communication? 

Branding traditionally doesn’t hold the same priority in a technical environment, managed by engineers.  Marketeers often speak a different language, making it difficult to prove the worth of their ideas. Both marketers and managers with an engineering background need each other to be successful. 

How does your brand, reputation or storytelling approach differ between your B2B and B2C strategies? 

Branding is very much associated with consumer markets. But specifically in B2B most is to be gained. Where in B2C dynamic multi-media campaigns, packaging and design can support a singular product, B2B has to make do with just the brand (-name) and reputation. It is therefore more important to make that stand out to be invited to, and earn a seat at, the table of the customer. After that the window of communication becomes wider and more personal and you have time to explain in depth. Sales processes also take much more time in B2B, with many decision makers involved. This asks for aligned branding and messaging, carefully managed across the touch points, to remain relevant for all, and still add up to one consistent offering.  

How do you see your clients building the business case for brand investment?

It is a fact that a strong brand creates customer preference and loyalty. Research has shown it leads to direct and long term economic gain: 

  • 1% increase in customer satisfaction leads to a 3% increase in market cap
  • 2% increase in customer loyalty leads to a 10% cost reduction
  • 5% increase in customer retention increases customer lifetime value by 25%
  • 5% increase in customer loyalty can result in up to a 95% increase in profitability
  • 50% of customers will pay 20–25% more for brands they are loyal to

From this perspective investing in your brand to create preference and loyalty is a no brainer.

What lessons have you learned about simplifying complex concepts/technologies for branding and communications?

Telling the story in an effective way takes discipline. 

All brand attributes and communication should add up to optimize the impact of communication, facilitate client navigation, maximize the leverage of the investment and value creation. In naming for example this means that however enthusiastic teams are about a new product or service, the name should not compete with a Masterbrand and fit in the portfolio. Less is more. Whatever the message or positioning, the execution should be focussed and vigorously governed to prevent dilution and maximize impact.

What did you say when you were convincing people in a company to take branding/reputation seriously as an investable asset? Who did you need to convince?

It starts at the top. Few successful long term branding strategies have ever been introduced without C-Level support. Brand values and strategy should preferably go much further than just the communication and preferably be ingrained in the organisation.  

In our experience the key to acceptance of the benefits of branding investment is logic.  A discussion about brands can be a fluffy thing. A vague play of words about elements like purpose, positioning and values. The fundamentals of a brand strategy are actually very practical. It is a system that determines in detail how to engage with customers (and other stakeholders such as partners and employees), where, and in what way, maximizing effectiveness and efficiency.  It should be sustainable, able to evolve with the business. Not much different from the basic principles of designing physical or digital systems. Engineers will appreciate this logic.

Engineers identify, analyse and solve problems. Identify the problem, make it a rational story, based on facts, with terminology and examples that they understand. The basics:  

1. A brand is a strategic asset that drives significant economic value   

2. It is a reflection of a customers’ entire experience with the company which should be engineered optimally in support of the business objectives.

3. After that the implementation is a process, regardless of the content and evolution of the brand and its positioning, must be managed, governed and fine tuned continuously to maximize its effectiveness.

Skriptor Zigila is an international naming and strategy agency with offices in Amsterdam and Stockholm. They believe that structural solutions are the prerequisite for sustainable growth. To that end they support companies in every industry with branding strategy and architecture, naming and implementation support.  Joachim is looking forward to learning more about the latest challenges in the energy industry, being inspired and of course, connecting.  In this years’ Houston edition Joachim met a lot of inspiring people and even made dear new friends.