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.