Preparing for Change
Williams Randall is proud of our nine year partnership with Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) as its branding and media agency. When IPL first approached Williams Randall, the utility hadn’t had an ongoing branding campaign in more than a decade.
As a utility, IPL depends on positive public perceptions. We learned the public is more likely to have positive perceptions if they have context for the rates they currently pay, and see the positive impact the utility is making in the community. It was critical that we help customers see IPL is more than the electric company. Help them realize their neighbors are the utility workers at the end of the phone line, or the linemen risking their lives after a storm. And this emotional connection would make a difference.
In the years that followed, Williams Randall helped IPL strategically tell their story of community involvement and unwavering commitment to providing safe, reliable power as affordably as possible. Along the way the look and feel of the brand evolved, but it never strayed from the brand's core messages.
In phase one we portrayed IPL as an omnipresent member of the community. “A current flowing from the heart of Indianapolis.” The campaign highlighted the ways IPL was engaged throughout the city and that IPL’s reliability had more than a little to do with the fact that IPL employees themselves also relied on IPL power—just as its other customers did.
In phase two, we turned the brand’s focus to messages of value while still keeping a healthy dose of community in the mix. We tied the brand into the multitude of activities it helped people do every day for a remarkably low daily cost.
Phase three zeroed in on portraying the company as a collection of real people. We featured their employees in the entire campaign to give IPL the friendly face it deserved. And in phase four, messaging centered around IPL’s continuous commitment to providing reliable power safely.
A Two-Tiered Approach
A unique aspect of the public utility industry is the requirement to advertise ways customers could use less of their product. In other words, promote ways to save on energy consumption to minimize customer bills and positively impact the environment. So running parallel to the branding campaign was a seasonal campaign promoting IPL’s Ways to Save. We knew that saving energy appealed to a younger crowd, so we made the decision to have fun and convey a lot of seemingly complex programs as one simple way to be smart and experience the ease of saving energy and money.
How Did It Turn Out?
For both campaigns, the intended audience was IPL’s service territory, including residential and business customers in Marion County, Indiana. Though, for Demand-Side Management, we were particularly targeting lower-income residents, as well as younger, more environmentally aware residents.
The resulting public perception was that IPL was more flexible, more customer focused, and more affordable than their peers. All of which means power plants were updated, modern facilities built, and every effort is being made to find the perfect sweet spot between green and affordable for Indianapolis residents.
Across the years, Williams Randall is proud to have successfully helped IPL maintain and even surpass selected benchmarks that indicated the community’s positive perceptions of their local utility despite changes in rates, economic twists and turns, and increased emphasis on green energy.