Living and Communicating the Brand

Building a utility brand is not complicated, but it does require clarity and discipline.Once the brand has been defined, success will depend on the commitment and resolve of management and on developing the culture of branding.

Because the brand is who you are, building it simply means living it – which makes implementation strikingly simple. There is no place where using the brand as a context is inappropriate.

The brand is powerful not just because it creates clarity, but because it is partnered with the discipline of using it as a tool in all decision making and communications. In other words, it can act as a guide in all management decisions and planning process. It is an important tool for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of communications in part by making communications more meaningful.

More Meaningful Communications:

Utilities have a tendency to communicate about technologies, activities, investments, decisions, and milestones without reminding the audience why they are significant.

The primary rule is to never communicate information without connecting it to the motivation, or an element of the brand. This concept is illustrated in the following examples:

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

“Completion of the water quality laboratory will allow Metropolis Water to meet its commitment to continue to improve water quality and increase its knowledge related to water quality issues.”

It may seem like Communications 101, but these examples illustrate value and make clear the motivations of the utility. Being able to “weather a multi-year drought with little or no cutbacks in service” is a clear value statement.

Utility communications often emphasize facts and figures, and not value. It is important to note that conflict often occurs because there is a lack of clarity or consensus about the motivations behind an activity or decision.

The brand makes motivations explicit, reducing the likelihood of unnecessary conflict.

Disciplined Communications:

The brand defines the priority messages and, therefore, clarifies the purpose of any specific communication. Key communication channels include:

  • Communicating with governing bodies, including how board meetings are structured.
  • Communicating with the media.
  • Strategic plan structure and content, including standards related to key value issues.
  • The water or wastewater bill and bill inserts.
  • Presentations, classes, and speakers bureaus.
  • Website structure and content.
  • Press releases or newspaper ads.
  • Newsletter structure and content.
  • Customers service interactions and behavior of employees.
  • Organizational name and byline or slogan.

Being disciplined with respect to integrating the brand into all of these communication channels is a major component of branding and represents the core challenge for water and wastewater utilities.

The focus of the Utility Branding Network is to help utilities meet this challenge by providing consistent support and content that defines the day-to-day activities necessary for success.

Utility Branding Network c/o NWRI
18700 Ward Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92728
Phone: 714-378-3278

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