CHARGE meets Oliver Schoen, Director Go-to-Market at E.ON Next

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 Oliver Schoen, Director Go-to-Market at E.ON Next

What impact does ESG have on brand identity now, and how important will it be in the future?
ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) has become a cornerstone of our brand identity. In today’s world, consumers and stakeholders are increasingly conscious of the impact businesses have on the environment and society. Aligning with ESG principles not only enhances our reputation but also ensures long-term sustainability and resilience. As regulatory views tighten and become stricter on greenwashing, it’s imperative for our brand to ensure authenticity and transparency in our ESG communications. Misrepresenting our ESG efforts or making unsubstantiated claims can lead to significant reputational damage and potential regulatory penalties. In the future, I believe ESG will be non-negotiable for businesses. Those that don’t prioritize genuine ESG efforts and transparent communication will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage and at risk of regulatory scrutiny.

What is the general perception of the brand within your business versus how it was a few years ago? How has it changed, and what are your hopes for your brand in the next few years?
A few years ago, our brand was primarily seen as a utility provider. Today, there’s been a perceptible shift. The brand now exudes a fresh appearance, embodying a more human-centric approach. We’ve embraced a lighter, more engaging tone, making energy topics more accessible and fun. This progressive attitude isn’t just reflected in our external communications but has been ingrained in our ways of working internally. This transformation has felt organic, stemming from both our internal brand communication and the evolving culture of our company. In the next few years, I hope our brand continues on this trajectory, further solidifying our reputation as a forward-thinking, customer-centric sustainable energy provider.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities today for energy companies as it relates to brand and marketing?
The energy sector is undergoing a significant transformation. Historically, it’s been viewed as a low-interest category, but we’re witnessing a shift. The evolving landscape presents a unique opportunity for energy brands. As the category garners more interest, it allows us to engage with customers in novel and more meaningful ways. The role of the brand is becoming paramount, not just as a symbol but as a beacon for the purpose it represents.
Furthermore, the energy market is transitioning from a straightforward commodity logic to a proposition that’s multifaceted. With a broader array of offerings, comparisons in the market become less direct, and the competitive landscape is expanding. We’re now contending with a range of competitors, some of whom have powerful, established brands. This shift underscores the opportunity – and necessity – for energy companies to elevate their branding efforts, to stand out and resonate in a crowded and evolving marketplace.
On the marketing front, the digital transformation and personalization remain pivotal. With tools like smart meters, IoT, and AI, we can offer tailored solutions and experiences to our customers. As the energy landscape evolves, there’s also an opportunity to position ourselves as a trusted guide or a partner in the energy journey, helping customers navigate the intricate world of sustainable energy.