As we approach CHARGE Energy Branding Europe 2021 (Oct 11-13) we’ve been asking our top speakers and partners to reveal more about their approach to branding in energy. In this article, we speak to Kate McMullen, from Bynder. The interviewer, Dr Fridrik Larsen, is the founder of CHARGE Energy Branding.
Bynder is the creative content engine powering digital experiences for some of the world’s biggest brands like Spotify, PUMA, and Five Guys. Bynder’s digital asset management platform helps teams collaborate in the cloud, get content to market faster, and maximize the impact of marketing assets.
Turning their experience to energy markets, their vision is to elevate marketing creativity to the heart of digital experience so brands can build authentic relationships. Check out Bynder.com for more insights on how you can harness tech to accelerate brand operations and boost workplace creativity.
The Bynder solution will be represented at CHARGE Energy Branding Europe, by Kate McMullen, Sales Representative for Bynder. Kate will lead a discussion on leveraging creative automation to supercharge marketing at scale.
What do you think are the main challenges for energy companies when it comes to branding and communication?
I believe the biggest challenge is tailoring to individual customers and preventing them from churning.
Firstly, brands have to think about how to connect with stakeholders and customers in a memorable and engaging manner. As many energy companies have offerings that are hard to differentiate, you need a brand that cuts through the clutter. Especially nowadays, in the digital era that we live in with the vast amount of channels we use to communicate with (potential) customers, this can be a real challenge. Brand consistency at every touch point is essential, because brand consistency equals trust. And without trust, you lose customers.
Secondly, personalization. The consumers of energy brands have most of the power these days: there are more competitors in the field and on top of that digitization in the form of comparison websites (focused on their experiences across products, services and industries) makes it easier for those customers to switch providers. As a result, energy brands struggle with increased customer churn as a result of that. To build customer loyalty, personalization is key. Being personal, engaging, and relevant is great in theory, but it’s a tremendous challenge to execute for marketers.
In addition, creativity remains the number one factor driving ROI but the excessive reliance placed on the above is beginning to prove economically unsustainable for companies. The creative process is therefore the next great frontier of potential for creative automation opportunities. Let me clarify what I mean here because I’m aware that we hear about creative automation everywhere nowadays and brands can be hesitant towards it, but actually it’s more manageable than it seems. I’m talking about creative automation in more process-driven aspects of creativity – for example building variants of marketing content for personalisation, localisation and testing. I see it as a tool that hands back freedom to creative professionals by liberating them from the repetitive aspects of the creative process so they can use that time for actual creativity. And this gives energy brands a real edge in winning new customers but also keeping the existing customers.
Why is personalization in content creation and consumption so critical to modern B2B and B2C marketing? Further, how does the personalization approach differ in B2B to B2C?
Personalization matters because it enhances customer relationships and increases overall sales and continuous long term growth. Personalization means you know your customer and their needs well. If you were reaching out to a potential customer 20 years ago, you might have had an ad on a billboard; that’s how people would access information. Nowadays there are so many different ways to target them, on so many channels – e.g. tv, radio, social media – which makes it challenging for energy brands to connect with their audience.
When looking at the B2B versus B2C approach, I find that business-to-business marketing focuses mostly on logical process-driven purchasing decisions, while business-to-consumer marketing focuses more on emotion-driven purchasing decisions. However, I do feel that emotion-driven purchasing decisions are becoming increasingly more common in B2B marketing due to the rise of digital channels.
When building an energy brand, how much emphasis do you place then on emotion versus rationality? Should “feeling” and emotive resonance have a place within the brand strategy of energy brands?
Absolutely. Emotional connection plays a significant role in the choices we make as consumers. Many researches show that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions – so personal feelings and experiences -, rather than information such as features and facts. Especially looking at younger generations, emotion plays a massive role. This is not any different for energy brands. So as marketers, why not aim to trigger the right feelings and make an emotional impression? Try to figure out what your customers care about, for example the environment. And make sure to leverage that. Their motivators may be secondary to the underlying emotions that drive them, but take them seriously. Storytelling can be an indispensable tool here. Stories can be compelling and easy to share. They can help trigger the emotions you may need to get your desired outcome.
What lessons do you believe other industries have learned in optimizing their marketing through personalization, that the energy industry can also take advantage of?
I think the most important lesson is to make customer engagement by means of personalisation more important than ever. Personalization used in other industries – e.g. e-commerce or travel – are setting a new norm and have raised the standards of what customers expect. This has created a shift in how energy brands should operate. As I mentioned before, personalization comes with many success stories. But it is the excessive reliance many have placed on this strategy that is beginning to prove economically unsustainable for companies.
Creative automation tools such as digital and video templating tools – e.g. Bynder’s Digital Brand Templates and Video Brand Studio – allow marketers to not have to rely as heavily on creative professionals and help them to quickly create the online, brand-consistent content they need, which in turn will help them to achieve faster time-to-market.
How do you believe brand, marketing, storytelling and reputation management skills will help us to navigate the challenges of the energy transition, particularly as we run-up to and after COP26?
I think we can all agree that climate change has become a global priority. But in most cases, there is a massive gap between online communications from energy brands that focus on this topic and the number of people that consider this a serious issue and want those energy brands to do something about it. Energy brands need to actively and timely communicate what they are doing to the public in an engaging way by means of a compelling story. On top of that, you need to have the right tools in place, to maintain brand consistency.
Bynder are GOLD Sponsors for CHARGE Energy Branding Europe 2021 (October 11-13).