Eversource Six Brands Become One
When the five operating companies of Northeast Utilities merged with Boston-based NSTAR, the company continued to be viewed and to operate as six legacy brands. The new entity had gained neither the operational efficiencies of one company nor the regional reputation or policy-setting clout of a major regional utility. Meanwhile, employees remained loyal to the six distinct operating companies, not to the parent. A unified rebranding promised to bring about a rationalization of shared support services; standardization of procedures and processes across all companies; and the marketing and motivational power of a single brand.
The company chose a “big bang” approach to rebranding, the timing of which initially remained confidential. The most significant and/or physical challenge emerged when the brand launched on February 2, 2015, amidst the worst winter in recent history. Although New England was overwhelmed with unprecedented amounts of snow and storm activity, Eversource adeptly handled travel hardships, power outages, and operational difficulties related to the extreme weather. On “day one” the company’s more than 8,000 employees all came together as a newly rebranded company, serving customers across New England as one unified organization.
“In a complex operational environment with many customer touchpoints, the precision that BrandActive brought to the process was remarkable. Customers rely on us and flawless execution of the rebranding was critical to building awareness and maintaining trust. A market research study executed 8 months post-launch found that awareness levels of Eversource surpassed those of brands that had been in the market for years.”— Director, Corporate Communications, Eversource
BrandActive began by creating a clear picture of launch and completion across the entire entity. Where possible, we tapped opportunities to improve brand impact and cost savings through reduction of assets, vendor consolidation, value engineering, and other strategies. We promptly identified “quick win” opportunities that would produce the maximum impact in the shortest time to build momentum for the brand transition.
BrandActive greatly enhanced overall project efficiency by implementing proven processes, templates, and tools. This helped to ensure that workgroups would take into account cost effectiveness, quality, risk mitigation, efficient vendor management, and integrity of brand application. We established the service-level definition, reporting structure, troubleshooting protocol, and ongoing management plans for selected asset vendors to follow. We assisted with vendor vetting, RFP preparation, and education of vendors on brand guidelines, standards, and specifications. We helped identify resource gaps and solutions to bridge those gaps, all while playing a key role in budget and overall quality management.
According to executive leadership and external stakeholders, Eversource “flipped a switch” and converted to the new brand “flawlessly.” Efficiencies were achieved through cross-company standardization, reputation gains were realized from a single, region-wide brand accompanied by an outpouring of employee pride and unity related to the new brand introduction. The consistency in brand identity achieved as a result of the meticulously planned implementation to the Eversource brand has helped to build strong awareness of the company’s commitment to investments and reliability—two important attributes for customers. Six months after launch, the new brand had achieved the highest awareness for any utility in New England. With the delivery of a consistent look and feel, gains in awareness continued to increase one year post-launch, resulting in greater value being achieved from Eversource’s media investments and other marketing and communications opportunities.