Building our brand from the inside out
E.ON is a vertically integrated global energy company. Powergen was the UK retail arm of E.ON, and aimed to be a modern, retail energy company with customers at its heart. This is a far cry from the nationalised utility company of old. Since de-regulation the energy industry has become an incredibly competitive market, suffering reports of poor customer service, high customer losses, low brand recall, aggressive sales tactics and price wars.
We wanted to stand out and be different from our competitors; we called this difference “Changing Energy”. Our guiding principle, this shaped our brand and culture. Changing Energy was born because we needed to respond to climate change, but also because our customers told us we needed to change and take action.
At the same time as introducing Changing Energy, we also needed to rebrand. E.ON aspires to be a global brand; therefore operating under the Powergen brand was not aligned to the E.ON strategy. This presented huge challenges – E.ON was virtually an unknown brand within the UK (brand recall 3%) whilst Powergen was known and loved, evidenced by a brand recall of 80%.
Our challenge was not only to move from Powergen to E.ON Energy, but also to begin the journey of bringing Changing Energy to life. In a service driven industry, our brand lives or dies through our people – this was our communication need.
- To ensure awareness and understanding of the brand transition (Powergen to E.ON Energy) and Changing Energy (our brand strategy and promise)
- To ensure colleagues understand the contribution they make to the success of the brand transition and Changing Energy
- To engage colleagues in Changing Energy
- To gain buy-in from colleagues to brand transition and Changing Energy
- To evaluate the success of the communication plan
What we did
We needed to communicate that on 3 December 2007, we were changing from Powergen to E.ON Energy. This was an
important step in our journey to live and breathe Changing Energy.
To engage our employees in Changing Energy, we needed to make ambassadors of our managers by making Changing
Energy come to life, and giving them an understanding of the impact it will have on all of our lives.
Some of the activity aiming to achieve this included:
- Face to face brand workshop for leaders
Conference for managers (including a toolkit for managers to facilitate onward communication & an interactive workshop)
- Radio show & Intranet home page ‘count down’, reminding colleagues of the impending changes
- Email invites to a party, celebrating moving from Powergen to E.ON Energy
- Portal site allowing colleagues to see the journey from Powergen to E.ON, including the introduction of Changing Energy messages
- Changing Energy Calendar & Awards were introduced, to reinforce the message and reward the progression of outstanding teams
- An interactive e-learning tool (SwitchedOn) was later introduced
- Virtual time-capsules were used to honour the Powergen past
- 92% felt they understood more about the brand transition
- 83% felt well informed about the launch of the E.ON brand, a 26% increase in 8 months
- 80% understood the role they played in the changes
- 99% said they had a clearer understanding of what E.ON is trying to do to change energy
- 75% said the workshops helped broaden their thinking on Changing Energy
- Employee advocacy – uptake of “my E.ON energy” colleague product from 2% to 15%
- E.ON brand awareness – 17% in January 2007 – 58% in January 2008
- Maintained 2nd position in customer satisfaction league tables despite moving to a new and unknown brand.
Phil Gilbert (Head of Strategy, E.ON Energy) admitted that making the changes happen had proved difficult in previous attempts:
We’ve always struggled to understand how to realise our ambition to become a great place to work – until we worked with The Communications Lab. Now, it’s happening.