The energy industry needs a vision, plain English and difficult conversations


September 26, 2018

250 CEOs and heads of communications gathered 24-25 September 2018 in Reykjavík at the CHARGE Energy Branding Conference to discuss advocacy, branding and communications in the energy industry. Here are my takeaways after attending the conference this year, and hopefully returning next year:

  1. Utilities and energy companies need a North Star. To businesses and people energy isn’t about electrons, but it makes it possible for us to work, heat our homes and read a book at night. Energy companies need to share their dreams, stand for something and communicate the benefits. The sports industry and technology companies such as Apple are examples that the industry should look to for inspiration.
  2. The energy companies need to speak to people. Whether you are a B2B or B2C company makes no difference. You need to communicate from Businesses to People (B2P) to build trust and therefore understanding. That means removing the jargon and corporate language, and starting to speak to people by using references they know (money and time) rather than MWh.
  3. The industry needs to communicate faster. The new consumer wants the energy companies to communicate faster, on channels where they are and that means replying faster than within 24 hours.
  4. The brand experience should include sound. Whether it is a film, an app or a device that has music, voice or a tone be sure to humanize it. The pause and hesitation in speech makes us human and builds trust. Classical music, an automated voice or a low or high pitched tone will all send a signal of what kind of brand you are.
  5. Bring different people together for difficult conversations. The industry needs inspiring conversations, but also difficult conversations with different people. The industry needs to see things from a different perspective to continue to evolve as companies and communicate as people.
  6. Take time to think and make a plan. Many energy companies are pressured to become digital and therefore “slap an app on it.” Set off time to map your channels, what works and doesn’t work to make an integrated communications plan that both adds and removes channels.

Follow #CHARGE2018 on social media for the commentary around the conference.