November 2, 2015
The “Brand” of Branding
Perceptions of branding abound. Many believe that branding is developing a logo or slogan, and for others it’s just spin. Add to this the ways utility managers and policy makers often categorize branding, declaring that it’s “nice but not necessary,” or even “not appropriate or beneath” public agencies.
Reality Strikes - But the simple fact is that utilities and their staffs are being branded. This means they are being categorized with respect to their efficiency, planning, financial management, and transparency. Just being a public monopoly often leads to a utility being labeled as inefficient. And these impressions undoubtedly impact the political process, policy decisions, and investment.
Protecting the Public Interest - The objective of competent utility branding is simple: ensure that the utility secures the funding to provide reliable and high-quality services today and in the future….in other words protect the interests of their community. And the branding tactics are substantive. They focus on planning, standards, and communications that ensure that the utility is actually being transparent and has a strong reputation with policy makers and the influential public.
Countering the Politics of Under-Investment - The path of least resistance is politically-palatable rate setting and chronic under-investment. It takes leadership, a strong utility brand, and a staff that knows how to make compelling arguments for investment to counter these determined political forces.