Why Energy Utilities Need to Turn Their Attention to Brand Appeal

Why Energy Utilities Need to Turn Their Attention to Brand Appeal

“Signs and symbols rule the world”
Confucius

Brand Appeal measures customers’ positive feelings for a company based upon the claims and visuals the company has created to establish a unique market position. The brand equity that companies evoke in customers’ minds relate to added pricing power and preferred provider status. The first quarter of the 2018 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential (UTBCE) study results are out and a new finding highlights 131 utilities’ Brand Appeal with their respective residential customers.

Brand Appeal Is in the Eyes of the Customer

Establishing high Brand Appeal enables utilities to engineer customer support and loyalty using design and color to shape a unique impression in customers’ minds. By asking respondents to rate their utility’s visuals such as logos and slogans, the UTBCE study has identified the utilities that have created the most appealing customer value propositions. Six utility brands rise to the top with a brand that invokes a high level of customer appeal. As utility customers select who they want to do business with, these six utilities are the likely winners with great brand equity and considered significantly more “ideal” than any other utility.

While many of the six most appealing brands do not have industry-leading operational or service metrics, one in four of their customers value his or her utility’s product endorsement, compared with just one in six for the industry. What’s more, over half of the most appealing utility brands’ customers say they are likely to recommend utility product offerings to other customers.

The implications of Brand Appeal are revolutionary for the industry: the utilities that can generate high brand appeal will position themselves with higher brand trust and offering adoption among customers.

Top 6 Most Appealing Utility Brands

The Relationship between Brand Appeal and Customer Trust

If you have ever needed to increase rates, you know what a difficult public relations challenge this can be. The six most appealing utility brands score above industry average on future rate support. In fact, these utility brands have a 13% higher level of customer “trust [in utility] to set fair and reasonable rates.” In other words, appealing brands get the benefit of the doubt with customers. So, a recognizable and appealing brand is essential to building customer trust. This is important, as the phrase “customer trust” is now part of the mission statement for almost every utility. The brand research results below shows the impact that creating an appealing utility brand has on building customer trust (scores are based on a 1,000-point scale).

As there is a significant 234-point difference between the most and least appealing brands, many utilities have a lot of work to do to increase brand appeal.

How to Build Brand Appeal

As utilities work toward establishing a stronger foothold among their customers in order to compete with disruptive forces such as Tesla, Apple and Google, building Brand Appeal can be a major differentiator.

Five Ways to Build Brand Appeal

  1. Consistently represent logos and slogans on all customer-facing media
  2. Select color schemes and visuals that appeal to your customers
  3. Develop a market value proposition (different from your corporate stakeholder commitment) that your customers can relate to
  4. Develop a slogan that reflects your market value proposition
  5. Ensure that the signs, symbols and claims your company develops reflect your market value proposition

Building Brand Appeal is one part of the larger strategy to positively position utilities for the future. Enlisting the right team with the right tools and expertise will make a difference in creating a stronger brand to survive. Contact me if you would like to explore how you can improve your Brand Appeal.

Review the details on the Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement: Residential Study

This entry was posted in Brand and Messaging, Energy and tagged by Chris Oberle. Bookmark the permalink.
Chris Oberle

About Chris Oberle

Chris Oberle is a senior vice president in the Energy Research division, with more than 25 years of executive management experience in the energy and financial services sectors. He manages the development and delivery of syndicated studies, custom research, best practices and advisory services. Throughout his career, Chris has earned a reputation as a customer experience thought leader by helping clients improve the way they develop, deliver, engage and satisfy customers with their programs and brands. Chris earned an MBA from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. He coaches youth sports and spends time with his kids at USC and UCLA.

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