The facts and the science are there: clean energy isn’t an option, it’s essential to our future. What’s more, there has been a sea change in the perception of renewables from a niche component of the energy mix to a mainstream solution. This has created big opportunities for companies that make non-carbon energy production and consumption possible, from traditional solar and wind generation to fuel cell storage and clean power conversion.
Branding has a role to play in the clean energy sector. Several challenges businesses face can be supported, or in some cases solved, by applying the tools of branding. A recognizable, differentiated brand that is meaningful and attractive to a customer is as vital in the clean energy space as it is in more traditional industries such as retail and consumer goods.
But clean energy companies face brand challenges that are unique to their sector. Addressing these brand challenges can help position the organization to increase sales and customer loyalty, attract employees in a highly competitive job market, and bring us closer to a more sustainable future.
BEING ‘GREEN’ ISN’T ENOUGH
In the early years of the industry, simply being ‘sustainable’ was a sufficient differentiator for many companies. However, today sustainability is largely taken for granted. From homeowners to utilities, clean energy customers make decisions based on cost, savings, and return, and a pure appeal to green values is a thin message. Rather, the combination of an emotional and economic message has a greater potential to make a difference.
CONSOLIDATION IS ACCELERATING
Government incentives, tax breaks, and an explosion of technologies have led to a proliferation in the industry. Much like the computer industry in the 1970s, clean energy has been a ‘wild West’ of opportunities. However, like the mature computer industry of the 21st century, only a few companies end up as major players. In an environment of distrust of the long-term survival of many clean tech firms, brand perception matters to attract customers and ensure favorable media and industry coverage.
COMPLEX TECHNOLOGY NEEDS SIMPLE MESSAGES
Clean energy companies have a complicated story to tell. Whether the subject is efficiency, outpoint, leveraged cost of energy, or the nature of the technologies themselves, it’s easy for the company’s messaging to be caught in a ‘spin cycle’ of features and fact sheets, in which the benefit to the end customer is lost. Think about why, at the end of day, your product really matters to the end customer at the most important level, and you can break free from the feature spin.
PUTTING YOUR BRAND TO WORK
Finally, since many clean tech companies have limited marketing budgets compared to consumer and retail brands, it’s the company brand that has to do the real heavy lifting to enhance perception. We’ve attached a few examples of how we’ve worked with other clean energy companies to ensure a solid brand foundation to their strategic activities.