Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Branding Update
December 11, 2013

Holding an Annual Efficiency Summit

Since most utilities are part of municipalities or are public agencies, people are often suspicious that they are not very efficient. This categorization occurs for a variety of reasons, one being that most utilities are monopolies, so they don't have a strong competitive incentive for increasing efficiency. Utilities do pay attention to efficiency, but it's difficult to benchmark. And having the lowest rates does not mean you are the most efficient. A "you're not efficient" brand is definitely a problem when it comes time to propose higher rates.

So, utility managers need to demonstrate to policy makers (and anyone else who is paying attention to the utility's finances) that efficiency is a core commitment of the organization. A good way to do this is to hold an annual efficiency summit. This meeting/workshop should focus on the status of current efforts, brainstorming new ideas, and setting goals for the upcoming year. This approach has several benefits. It helps to ensure that the organization is expending sufficient effort on efficiency improvements. It institutionalizes the process of increasing efficiency, which communicates the organization's commitment. And it will be a breeding ground for efficiency case studies. The summit should be billed as one of the year's most important events. This will generate publicity, and publicity builds brands.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Branding Update
December 4, 2013

Practicing Transparency

Most utilities are not trying to hide information. But despite their best intentions, they may appear to be holding back because they do not understand how to be meaningfully transparent. In past Branding Updates we have discussed the need to share the motivations and standards driving the activities, decisions, and proposed investments of the utility. This is especially true with respect to planning and finances.

However, in many cases standards are sprinkled throughout the strategic plan or other policies and procedures. Major standards may be called core values or goals. Standards can even be found in lists of activities. One way to facilitate increased transparency is to compile the important standards in a single document so they are readily accessible to the staff. The process of listing and reviewing the standards forces the organization to reconfirm their commitment to the standard, or revise it. It also reinforces the need to share these standards when communicating and making the case for needed investments. It is very difficult for utility managers and staff members to be transparent if vetted standards are not easy to find and use.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Branding Update
November 5, 2013

Internal Communications that Build Trust

In previous Branding Updates we have discussed how communicating standards and motivations is essential for providing meaningful transparency. Transparency not only applies to communicating with customers and the community. It is just as important, if not more important, for internal communications.

Use Standards to Build Trust with Employees - One of the most effective ways to build trust with employees comes into play when announcing important decisions. The announcement is meaningful and builds trust when the logic and motivations behind the decision are clear. And the most powerful motivations are the utility's standards. For example, if the utility announces that it is building an additional water pipeline to a given community, it is important to mention that the reason is to comply with the standard of having redundant water-delivery paths. The standard provides the logic and actually enhances the perceived value of the investment. Being clear about the standard also heads off questions like "why do they need an extra pipeline and who is paying the bill?" Remember, there may be several standards that apply to a given decision.

Standards Affect All Levels of the Organization - Every decision communicated by management to employees should include the motivations or relevant standards. Without this accompanying logic, employees will come to their own conclusions (often erroneous) or just brand the decision as another edict from management. Also, when employees understand the standards, they make better decisions while performing their duties.

Failing to Communicate an Important Decision - This is a trust buster. And every decision that directly affects an employee will be considered important by that employee. Failing to inform the employee of the decision tells them they are not important.

Standards Should Be Accessible - Notwithstanding the need to be transparent with the community, building internal trust is another reason why utility managers need to compile a list of standards that are driving their decisions and investments. Standards are usually sprinkled throughout the strategic plan, board or city council policies, and other management documents. Since they are essential for making the case for investment and providing meaningful communications, they should reside in a single document and be very accessible to management and staff. This document can also be used for periodically reviewing the standards and approving changes.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Branding Update
October 7, 2013

Using the "Branding" Word

Employing the term branding in connection with managing a water or wastewater utility triggers a variety of reactions, ranging from very positive to very negative. The negative reactions are often rooted in the following sentiments:
  • Utilities are monopolies and don't have competitors, so there is no need for branding
  • Branding is spin, and is designed to fool people into buying products they don't need
  • The public will react negatively to utilities spending money on branding programs

Here are some of the reasons why the branding term is appropriate:

Branding Brings Attention to Needed Change - The term gets people's attention, which can inspire utility managers to improve planning, communications, and making cases for investment.

Utilities are Being Branded - Public utilities are being branded whether they like it or not, which means they are being categorized in ways that affect public trust. An example is the often-heard claim that government organizations are inefficient.

The Need for Category and Audience Focus - Branding efforts strive to ensure that a target audience properly categorizes a product's value (safe car, leading energy drink, best smart phone), and ultimately decide to buy the product. Similarly, utilities need to focus on ensuring that policy makers and the influential public (the target audience) trust the utility's planning and investment proposals.

Good Brands are Genuine and Long-Lasting - This is a testament to the power of branding and demonstrates that competent branding is not spin. Utility brands must be true, helping people to accurately categorize the utility's roles and expertise.

The Brand Determines Price - Likewise, perceptions about the utility by policy makers and the influential public ultimately effect rates.

Branding is Powerful and Cost Effective - Utilities need to tap into the power and efficiency that comes with being brand focused. In fact, good branding is more cost effective than unfocused outreach efforts that often fail to make an impression on the "general public."

It's Wise to Use the Term Appropriately - Announcing to the community that you are undertaking an expensive branding program that focuses on logos, slogans, or advertising is asking for trouble. Good utility branding is the quiet process of clearly defining your value and important standards, providing great customer service, making compelling cases for investment, and building meaningful relationships with those who can influence policy decisions on rates and investment.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Branding Update
September 17, 2013

Standards, Brands, and Transparency

Standards are the Essence of a Brand - In past Branding Updates we have discussed the terms above. However, it is interesting to explore how they are related. It turns out that the foundation for a good brand is its standards. These standards can be broad, like Rolex focusing on producing luxury watches. They can be more detailed, like Starbucks making sure the coffee in its stores is a certain temperature or strength. In every case, the value embedded in a product or service is determined by standards. Related terms are specifications or requirements. Regulations are an imposed standard, and failing to comply is a negative branding moment.

Utility Branding and Standards - A utility’s mission and brand commitments are its fundamental standards, for example ensuring water-service reliability, water quality, or public health. However, within each of these categories there are multiple standards that drive activities and proposed investments (and add meaning to the value that the utility provides). For example, stating that a community’s water supply will be climate-change resilient qualifies and enhances the meaning of the water-service reliability commitment. Deciding that each customer-service interaction must create a positive impression triggers the need to define more detailed standards that ensure this occurs. This would almost certainly include a maximum hold time for customers who call to report a problem. Making sure all important standards are identified and meaningful is an essential element of effective strategic planning and communications.

Standards are the Key to Meaningful Transparency – It is easy to think that transparency means sharing everything. But if we ponder this idea for a moment we know it is not true. No utility would go out of its way to share specific dimensions from the drawing of a pump, or the chemical composition of the chlorine product it uses for disinfection. However, utilities share information all the time that is not very meaningful or transparent. Content tends to focus on facts and figures rather than the motivations or standards driving a decision or activity. So, when communicating with the public or policy makers about needed investments or rate increases, the utility needs to articulate the standards pertinent to the recommendations. This must include relevant planning and financial standards. Without this information, the value embedded in the proposal will not be clear or compelling, and there is arguably no real transparency.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Branding Update
August 14, 2013

Focusing on Staff Proficiency

In past Branding Updates we have discussed some of the intricacies of building public trust through a conscious branding effort, creating compelling arguments for investment, and building relationships with the influential public. In case it is not yet clear, this is all about forging relationships. The trust being sought is trust in the leaders and employees of the utility. To build this trust, senior managers and staff need to be well versed in branding and communication principles, and be capable of taking effective action. So, it is essential to think in terms of increasing the staff's proficiency in specific areas.

Key Principles - Understanding the application of branding principles to water and wastewater utilities

Mission and Vision - Fully grasping the difference between the brand, the mission statement, and vision

Transparency - Creating transparency that builds sharing information that emphasizes the logic behind important policy decisions and investment proposals

Planning - Developing a strategic plan is that is brief, based on the brand, empowers the staff, and communicates the significant standards influencing activities and proposed investments

Relationship with Governance - Understanding and meeting the needs of policy makers

Investment Proposals - Making a compelling argument for an investment or rate increase

Policy Briefings - Creating and adopting a "policy brief" that outlines the information necessary to create a compelling argument

The Need for Investment - Developing an investment imperative that becomes the foundation for connecting with community leaders

Community-Leader Relationships - Systematically building relationships with the influential public

Meaningful Information - Properly categorizing shared information, so people reading the utility's communication materials immediately know what they are reading and why it's important

Focused Outreach - Prioritizing and designing outreach efforts that support policy makers and sound policy decisions

Website Effectiveness - Designing a website architecture that reflects the brand, makes it easy for customers to solve problems, is not loaded with unnecessary information, and provides important facts about long-term planning, needed investment, and rates

Case Studies that Build Trust in Specific Areas - Drafting and sharing return-on-investment and efficiency case studies

Annual Report - Producing an annual report that articulates the "good deal" that the utility provides to the community, using language that conveys relevant facts and is not perceived as self promotion

Opinions about Public Employees - Crafting communication strategies that enhance perceptions of public employees, including their value, professionalism, and compensation

This journey can be described as "practicing principles to achieve proficiency." The good news is that the process of becoming proficient also builds the brand. The result is managers and staff members that are able to increase trust with customers and community leaders, and secure the financial resources needed to fulfill the utility's mission.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Branding Update
July 12, 2013

Unique Aspects of the Brand

Previous Branding Updates have addressed common elements of the utility brand. However, each agency will have aspects of the brand that are somewhat unique. The unique elements will depend on the specific roles of the utility (its mission) and the distinctive aspects of the community the utility serves. For example, a wastewater utility that serves a small affluent community in the mountains with a pristine watershed will have a different brand than the city of Chicago. The smaller utility in the mountains will likely need to have a very strong environmental ethic, resulting in high standards for preventing sewer overflows and ensuring that water discharged into the river is high quality. A sewer overflow is bad anywhere, but it will arguably be viewed differently in Chicago than in Vail, Colorado. And the political issues facing as a large municipal utility are clearly different than the challenges in a small town. These unique qualities and roles must be considered when defining the brand.

Branding Applies to Small Utilities - As noted above, a distinctive quality of a utility is its size. Some may argue that a small utility cannot implement branding because they do not have the financial resources to fund a large outreach program or to even have a full-time communications person. It pays to remember that branding is not just about what you say, but who you are. Utilities, big and small, are being branded due to their customer service, policy decisions, and the way they interact with their communities. This is true whether or not the utility is "advertising" and independent of how many communication people are on staff. Utilities that serve small communities are not exempt from the challenge of building trust with the influential public and securing appropriate investment. In fact, branding may be more applicable in small communities because of the intimate nature of the relationships. Sewer spills can make the front page of the newspaper. A person can call and ask for the general manager of the utility and actually get to talk with him or her. Because of this intimacy, the brand (especially the personal characteristics of the staff) is very important in a small community.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Branding Update
July 1, 2013

Communications and Strategic Planning

Making Communications More Meaningful – Despite the fact that branding is much more than just communications, it is still important to communicate in ways that people can understand. Publicity programs, relationship-development efforts, public-outreach programs, and advertising are all forms of communications. Water and wastewater utilities have a tendency to talk about technologies, activities, and events without reminding the audience how these things relate to the value provided to the community. Making communications more meaningful is an important outcome of good branding. The principal rule is to never discuss an activity, decision, investment, technology, process, or milestone without connecting it to motivations. The motivation communicates value, and these motivations are often one or more elements of the brand. This is illustrated in the following examples:

“The North Fork Reservoir project plan has been approved by the City Council, which is a critical milestone in improving water reliability and drought resiliency in the region. This project will allow our region to weather multi-year droughts with little or no cutback in service.”

“Completion of the water-quality laboratory will allow us to meet our goal to improve water quality and increase our knowledge of water-quality issues.”

This may seem like Communications 101, but these examples make clear the motivations of the utility and the value created by the action or investment. Being able to “weather a multi-year drought with little or no cutback in service” is based on the utility’s reliability promise. It is also an unambiguous statement of value. Conflict is often rooted in misunderstandings about the reasons behind a decision or proposal. Utility managers should not make policy makers, customers, and influential community members guess at the utility’s motivations. Connecting decisions and activities to the commitments articulated in the brand is not dumbing things down. On the contrary, it makes things clear and reduces the likelihood of both confusion and conflict.

Communications and Strategic Planning – It turns out that the concept of meaningful communications is the foundation for a producing a good strategic plan. It is essential for the strategic plan to connect proposed actions and investments with the fundamental promises (the brand) of the organization, and other important standards driving investment decisions and influencing priorities. These other standards are major regulations like the Safe Drinking Water Act, or might be internally generated ethics like improving water quality or increasing knowledge about water-quality issues (as highlighted in the example above). So, the strategic-planning process needs to be as much about identifying and clarifying standards as it is listing proposed actions. This is not a trivial exercise, but it is well worth the effort. Connecting activities and investments with the pertinent brand promises and other motivations demonstrates integrity. It also provides the meaningful transparency necessary to build trust and make compelling arguments for investment.    

Have a Fun-Filled 4th of July!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Branding Tasks and Brochure

Building the utility brand impacts all facets of the organization. It begins with understanding the power of branding and the brand elements that support sound policy decisions on rates and investment. The attached Resource Trends brochure briefly covers many of the tasks associated with defining the brand, and integrating it into planning and outreach efforts.

Resource Trends Brochure

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Branding Update
May 20, 2013

Simple Concepts, Big Change

Although there are subtleties to branding and it takes experience to implement a competent branding program, the principles are fairly simple. After all, it’s not profound to say that a water utility should provide water reliability and protect public health, or that the utility’s staff needs to be trusted with respect to planning and finances. However, there is a big difference between these ideas being very familiar and successfully building trust with policy makers and the influential public. For example, you won’t build a reputation for efficiency unless you systematically share information about efficiency improvements with target audiences. Similarly, building a strong financial brand requires being transparent with respect to financial motivations, standards, and decision making.

Ultimately, the biggest challenge for utilities is that implementing a branding approach usually involves considerable change, typically with respect to the information they share and the community relationships they strive to create. Success requires an appreciation for the substantial benefits of branding, which in turn fuels a commitment to do things differently. The positive outcome is a sizeable change in how the utility and staff are perceived, and a more dependable process for securing investment and rate increases.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Branding Update
May 6, 2013

The Influential Public

Giving policy makers the cover they need to make sound decisions requires that we understand who policy makers look to for support, or who is influential. Asking policy makers to be brave and make tough decisions without clear-cut support is too much to ask. It also increases the risk that the community will under-invest in resources and infrastructure. The last Branding Update recommended providing support for policy makers by building relationships with community leaders or the “authorizing public.”

Authorizing or Influential - Authorizing is a strong word, and to some this term describes policy makers, or only those people with the authority to make policy decisions. Developing a strong relationship with policy makers is clearly a priority. But utility managers also need to identify those community leaders who are in a position to influence decisions. So, a better term for the utility’s target audience might be the “influential public.” Using this term does not mean that individuals in this group have an objective to influence (although some might). It simply means that if their position on a key issue is known to a policy maker, it could affect how the policy maker votes. Ideally, the individuals in the influential public are community leaders that represent (as a whole) a broad cross section of interests. This means that utility managers need to use this “general-public-interest” standard when identifying the individuals that make up this group.

The Self-Selecting Public and Undue Influence - The influential public is not restricted to those who show up for public meetings or workshops. As mentioned in the last Branding Update, volunteers are self-selecting. They are engaged for a variety of personal reasons or special interests. They do not represent everyone. Self-selectors are surely part of the influential public, so they deserve a voice. But they should not be exercising undue influence or dictating policy simply because they volunteered to be heard. The mission of utilities is to serve the entire community.

The Challenge - Building relationships with members of the influential public requires that you know who they are and are able to peak their curiosity with interesting information and compelling events. Encouraging people to be interested and accept this relationship is a challenge. People are busy. And even the majority of community leaders are not seeking to learn more about water. Look for more information on addressing this challenge in future Branding Updates.   

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Branding Update
April 15, 2013

Reaching the "Authorizing Public"

When thinking about public outreach, it is important to consider who you want to reach and why. Often, who utilities reach is limited by who shows up at public meetings or workshops, or who signs up to be part of an advisory group. It is important to remember that these people are self-selecting, and they are engaged for a variety of personal reasons or special interests. They do not necessarily represent the general-public interest. Sometimes the only people self-selecting are opponents or “squeaky wheels.”

Previous Branding Updates have addressed the need for utilities to provide “cover” for policy makers. This requires building relationships with those in a position to influence policy decisions. Ideally, the utility needs to reach community leaders who represent a broad cross section of interests. We have started referring to this group of individuals as the “authorizing public.” Reaching these people begins with knowing who they are, followed by proactively meeting and communicating. Self-selectors are surely part of the authorizing public because they are interested and engaged. But they are only a subset of this group, and certainly should not be exercising undue influence or dictating policy. The mission of the utility is to serve its entire community.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Branding Update
March 18, 2013

The Nature of a Compelling Argument

How High Is The Bar? - Most people don’t part with their money easily. So if you want someone to buy your product or invest in your endeavor, you need to make a pretty compelling argument. Often, utility staff members expect policy makers to easily trust that their rate-increase proposals are necessary. This is an unreasonable expectation. When it comes to money, trust never comes easy. Investment proposals must meet a high standard, characterized by extraordinary clarity and highly-relevant information. The foundation for trusting a specific proposal is the utility’s brand (or trust in the organization). No proposal is compelling if it comes from someone you do not trust. But a strong organizational brand must be accompanied by a strong case for investment. For water-utility managers, the bar is especially high because policy makers often feel uneasy about the consequences of supporting a rate increase. Furthermore, they and their constituents typically have preconceived notions about the efficiency of government organizations and government spending. Clearly, a compelling argument needs to be so clear and meaningful that it displaces current thinking and ideologies. This allows policy makers to fully appreciate the logic of the proposed investment.

How Should It Look? - A compelling proposal provides the rationale behind an investment in clear and precise terms, for example by:

·        Describing the fundamental roles and commitments (promises) of the organization
·        Reviewing ongoing efforts to increase operational efficiency
·        Providing meaningful transparency
o   Which means listing the key standards, driving forces, or other motivations for recommending the investment
·        Stating the problem to be solved
o   Which can be a current problem or one that will manifest in the near future if action is not taken
·        Emphasizing and explaining significant financial standards and challenges
·        Justifying the timing of the proposed investment
·        Communicating the ramifications of failing to invest or delaying investment
o   Typically in terms of reduced service reliability, increased risks, or higher costs in the future

What Doesn’t Belong? – Technical, financial, or any other facts that don’t make a relevant point or clarify the argument for investment.

How Should It Feel? - Policy makers should feel “compelled” to support the investment. More specifically, they should get a strong sense that voting no will be difficult to defend. A compelling argument exposes a “no” vote as being motivated by things other than meeting the utility’s operational and financial needs.

What Do The Results Mean? - A vote that tracks political-party lines or ideological beliefs means that the argument was not compelling. Therefore, the standard for a compelling argument is a unanimous decision, despite the fact that this is not always achievable (especially with large governing bodies). However, the unanimous-decision standard is suitable because it encourages the utility’s staff to take responsibility for the result, and continue to improve their planning and investment proposals.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Branding Update
March 5, 2013

Unpacking Planning and Financial Transparency

Previous Branding Updates have introduced the importance of making a compelling argument for investment and rate increases. The foundation for a compelling argument is trust in the person or organization making the argument. For utilities, building this trust (or brand) depends on providing meaningful transparency, especially with respect to planning and finances. In this context, meaningful transparency can be characterized as information that is both understandable by the audience and highly relevant to proposed investments or policy decisions. Sharing technical details with a non-technical audience may seem like transparency, but this doesn’t build trust.

Motivations and Standards are Relevant – This is because motivations and standards are what drive people to take action, make a change, or spend money: for example, a person taking public transportation to work every day because it’s less expensive, less damaging to the environment, and they can work while in transit. We can argue that these motivations relate to the personal standards of being smart with money, having concern for the environment, and being efficient with time. Understanding motivations and standards allows us to fully appreciate a situation or decision. With respect to planning and finances, utility proposals need to highlight the following types of information:

Planning Standards, Motivators
·        Acceptable levels of risk related to water resources and water reliability
·        Infrastructure-replacement and lifecycle-cost standards
·        Both regulatory and internal water-quality and environmental standards
·        Guidelines for addressing anticipated growth in the community
·        Planned increases in operational efficiency

Financial Standards, Motivators
·        Debt ratios (which impact the cost of borrowing money)
·        Liquidity and cash-flow standards
·        Maintaining financial reserves, and the logic behind recommended levels
·        The desired level of debt, and logic behind this standard
·        Costs/financial ramifications of delaying proposed actions or investments

Whatever the motivations and standards, they need to explain why the utility is recommending a specific course of action. Planners and chief financial officers are all too familiar with the issues above, but often the utility fails to provide the needed transparency. Presentations are better received and instill confidence when they begin with the pertinent motivations. And this can be done simply and briefly. Without this clarity and context, even policy makers familiar with the organization are hard-pressed to fully appreciate the utility’s proposal. Often, the unfortunate results are probing questions about why a proposal makes sense, confused enquiries about extraneous technical details, and ultimately erroneous conclusions about the urgency of the proposed investment.

The Bottom Line - The utility’s brand and the quality of the investment proposal have significant impacts on policy decisions, the performance and financial health of the utility, and ultimately quality of life in the community.

Friday, March 1, 2013

From Jan 9, 2013 Branding Update

Resource Trends Branding Brief on City and Community Branding
When working with water and wastewater departments within a municipality, questions often arise about the department's brand and its relationship to the city's brand. This in turn leads to discussions about effective and ineffective ways to build the brand of a city or community. The following Resource Trends Branding Brief outlines key issues related to developing a city or community brand, and what we can learn from Proctor and Gamble, owner of 300 consumer brands.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Branding Update
February 22, 2013

The Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) and the "Source of Quality"

Since CCR season is at hand, it is a good time to review important branding and trust-building principles that can be embedded in your report. The following Utility Branding Network tool is a good place to start:

One of the most important principles is the idea of establishing the utility as the source of quality, as outlined in the tool and below:

Become the Source of Quality - The objective of the CCR should be to increase confidence in the water. However, we have another important branding objective: to establish the utility as the trusted source of quality. This is important because people tend to associate water quality with its physical source ("Water from a mountain spring is best"). Consumers need to understand that investment, competency, and diligence on the part of the utility are what make water fit for drinking and other uses. This source of quality brand reflects the importance of appropriate investment and the local utility's values. This brand is especially important when implementing new sources of water, such as recycled water.

The principles noted above, and in the Branding Network tool, can be used in any communications designed to build water quality confidence and establish the utility as the source of quality.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Branding Update
February 14, 2013

Branding Network Subscribers Focus on Finances and Rates

The Changing Water-Investment Landscape - Utility management is changing rapidly. Water reliability is increasingly stressed by population growth and climate change, and water quality and environmental-protection costs are rising due to new regulations incorporating higher standards. Despite the need for public support, people brand taxes as bad and frequently categorize government organizations as inefficient. The result: elected officials often don’t feel safe to support needed rate increases.

The Need for Sustainable Finances – Quality of life and the economic health of communities is fundamentally impacted by the availability of water and wastewater services. Ensuring high water reliability and public health requires fully funding the utility’s operating costs and capital investments. A “negotiated” lower rate typically results in systematic under-investment in resources and infrastructure.

The Politics of Rate Increases – Investment and rate-increase decisions are made by the policy makers (city councils or boards of directors) of local water utilities or regional water agencies. Given this, it makes sense for utilities to provide policy makers the clarity, confidence, and support they need to make sound investment decisions. Providing this support or “cover” requires that the utility address the following:

·       Building trust (or a strong utility brand), especially with respect to planning, finances, and efficiency
·       Developing a compelling argument for a proposed investment or rate increase
·       Building relationships with community members in a position to influence water-policy decisions

The Utility Branding Network Helps Utilities Get Started and Keep Going - Addressing these critically important issues is an ongoing journey. Subscribers to the Utility Branding Network get support in building and maintaining their brand and ensuring sustainable finances by…..

·       Auditing Communications and the Strategic Plan
·       Developing Branding Statements and Strategic-Planning Sheet
·       Aligning the Mission and Vision Statements with the Brand
·       Tailoring Communications to be Meaningful to Policy Makers and Community Leaders
·       Making a Compelling Case for a Specific Investment or Rate Increase
·       Developing a Standardized “Policy Sheet” that Outlines Proposed Investments
·       Drafting Return-On-Investment and Efficiency Case Studies
·       Establishing a Website Structure that Reflects the Brand
·       Using a Major Investment Imperative to Build the Utility’s Brand
·       Producing an Annual Report that Communicates the “Good Deal”
·       Creating a Systematic Process for Engaging with Community Leaders

The Utility Branding Network is committed to ensuring that water and wastewater utilities are trusted and that rate setting fully funds utility operating costs and needed capital investments. The Network is managed by the National Water Research Institute on behalf of water and wastewater agencies.

Download Copy of Latest Branding and Rates Presentation

Resource Trends' latest presentation covering utility branding, investment, and rate increases covers the following important topics:
  • National and Local Investment Trends in the United States
  • Branding Principles and Myths
  • Utility Branding and Relationship to the Rate-Increase Process
  • The Utility's Bottom Line - Sustainable Finances
  • Elements of a Compelling Argument for Investment or Rate Increase
  • Transparency in Planning and Finances
  • Engaging with the Community
  • Getting Started and Addressing Barriers

Link to the presentation: Resource Trends Presentation

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Just Added the Blog

Just Added the Blog for Resource Trends

Just added the blog so we can post the articles from the Branding Updates and provide a more dynamic web presence for sharing information.