American Electric Power named Michael Rencheck senior vice president and chief nuclear officer for its D.C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman, Mich. The American Public Power...
Marketing & Competing
doesn't build the homes; rather, we certify that the home will use up to 25 percent less energy than comparably sized homes that do not meet the standards.
One participant living in a home certified as
energy-efficient by a competing utility said she loved the way her Climate Crafted Home kept her SRP electric bills low. She did not, in fact, live in a Climate Crafted Home. This participant, like others in her group, gave us information that was quite instructive. She was not the only one to recognize SRP's Climate Crafted Home program: Introduced in 1989, the program has enjoyed a high level of brand
recognition among Phoenix-area home buyers. Over 26,000 homes carry the Climate Crafted Home endorsement, far more than the number of homes certified as energy-efficient by Arizona's other utilities. But only one-third of our focus group participants were able to recognize Climate Crafted Homes as an SRP product distinct from similar-sounding energy-efficiency products offered by Arizona's other electric or gas utilities. SRP was promoting a product that failed to add equity to our company's brand. (We recently addressed that issue by renaming the program "SRP-Certified Homes.")
Arizona currently has five major electric utilities: locally owned SRP, Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), Tucson Electric Power Co. (TEP), Citizens Utilities (CU), and Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO). Add to this lineup Las Vegas, NV-based Southwest Gas Corp., which provides natural gas service throughout the state. No wonder customers have trouble remembering the different energy companies and their programs!
To overcome our lack of identity, SRP began developing a corporate branding campaign in late 1994. First, we asked existing and potential customers what they wanted from their electricity provider. We analyzed ways that SRP is different from other electricity providers. Using focus groups of present and potential customers and our employees, we created broad themes that were tested and refined using various techniques, including telephone surveys and mall-intercept interviews.
In late August, we rolled out a new series of print, television, and radio ads. These ads seek to distinguish SRP from other electricity providers, educate our customers to the distinct value of SRP products and services, and build brand loyalty. SRP's new positioning statement, "Delivering More than Power," will appear in all applications where a corporate logo is appropriate. The positioning statement capitalizes on our water operations, which predate the founding of the State of Arizona, and helps to set SRP apart from other utilities in the state. Our positioning statement also tells the customer that SRP will be delivering a variety of services over and above electricity.
Surviving the Identity Crisis
We are convinced that communication (em in particular, advertising (em must build corporate identity, brand awareness, and loyalty among customers that never used to think twice about their energy needs. Electric utility advertising is a big business: In 1994, electric utilities spent more than $150 million on advertising.1
In the past, electric utility advertising functioned principally to warn people about the dangers of coming into contact with downed electric wires, or to burnish a corporate image with touching