Often, it’s enough to have a clear vision and a strong will to work for it. The Icelandic entrepreneur Fridrik Larsen, who specialises in energy-industry branding, made his longstanding dream come true: In September this year, he organised what is probably the world’s first international brand seminar for the energy industry, attended by around 200 energy and marketing industry professionals from all over the world, from Asia to America.
Perhaps surprisingly, the necessity of branding was intensely discussed at the seminar. Can energy sales companies stand out with their product, which is fundamentally the same for all of them? Electricity is electricity; it’s hard to attach any other attributes to it except links to its production method. But on the other hand, a banana is only a banana, and still the most famous one must be Chiquita.
The energy industry includes many monopoly operators in grid business, and some people think that a monopoly doesn’t need to brand itself. The industry has traditionally been very production-focused at the expense of customer orientation. Why care about a brand, if the customer can’t choose between grid companies? The answer is simple. Understanding what you are like deep down creates clarity and order, both in communications and customer operations.
Branding helps us stand out from other companies. The brand promise permits customers to expect a certain kind of behaviour from us, which in turn inevitably makes our operations more efficient, as we start to genuinely act according to the promise. A good reputation takes us far even in difficult situations. The Irish transmission system operator Eirgrid learned this the hard way, when in 2013 consumers launched a strong campaign against the company’s grid construction projects. The unfamiliar, faceless company was seen as arrogant.
Fingrid is a transmission system operator, a monopoly, which operates on the B-to-B market. We want to stand out from other transmission system operators by operating humanely and being customer oriented. We are primarily in existence for our customers and the society. Our mission is to safeguard the balance of the Finnish power system every second. We bear responsibility, are open and easy to approach, and we aren’t afraid of being brave and renewing ourselves along with the society around us.
We have drawn up our own brand promise to tell people what we are like and how we meet our customers and other stakeholders. The brand promise is the basis for our reputation as an employer, because we want the best experts in the industry to join our company. But first of all, we want to continue operating without strong external control and develop the power system and electricity market. Our promise to customers and society makes this possible and shields us from difficulties. A strong brand guides employees to do the right thing while also allowing them to act independently.
Of course, a brand has to be more than a communicated statement; deeds must correspond to words. That’s the only way to create trust in the brand. The key to a good reputation is open discussion with customers; in this regard, the energy industry may not have succeeded as well as it could have done. A brand is never an end in itself, but each brand must have meaning for people and help each person to have a better life.
Even though the importance of building a reputation was discussed, in the end, Fidrik Larsen voiced everybody’s view that the energy industry has good reason to brand itself, listen to customers even more closely, and in other ways to become closer with ordinary consumers. Many operators have already done so; Powershop from New Zealand perhaps in the most inspiring way. Most of all, they try to have fun with their customers and offer them Power they can love.
Check our brand promise!