How efficient, sustainable energy innovations could boost your brand

09 January 2020

Research shows that using low-carbon energy solutions can improve your reputation – helping make the case for sustainable energy innovation.

Deloitte recently published The Global Millennial Survey. This reinforced a number of other surveys that concluded that brands with a strong corporate social responsibly and sustainability plan will attract a higher caliber pool of prospective employees and a large range of engaged customers.

42% of those surveyed stated that they would start and or deepen a relationship with business who has products/services that positively impact the environment/society whereas 38% said they would cease or reduce their relationship with businesses who has products that negatively impacted the environment/society.

In business, it’s often said that reputation is slowly built, but quickly lost. That’s why, as a successful company, it’s vital to take a strategic view of your brand – to avoid the damage that can result from being on the wrong side of fast-moving public debates.

The below was recently posted by Centrica Business Solutions and is republished with permission.

Globally, there are few issues being currently debated more than the environment and climate change. In response, many organizations are looking to implement technical low-carbon energy innovations – including solar power or electric vehicles – as well as less tangible innovations, such as reshaping business strategies to more closely reflect environmental concerns.

When you’re considering investing in any of these approaches, it’s vital to understand the wider implications they may have on your business – both positive and negative.

In particular, it’s clear they can have a significant impact on how your brand is perceived by customers and shareholders. Our recent report, Distributed Energy Future Trends, shows that decision-makers recognize that low-carbon energy solutions result in reputational benefits for businesses.

According to our research, as many as 30% of companies we surveyed say that investing in energy technology results directly in a better company reputation – up from 24% in 2017. That’s a big rise in just two years and shows that energy technology, an increase in environmental responsibilities as an organizational priority, and brand perception are closely linked.

Strategy linked to brand

In the past year alone, 36% of the businesses we surveyed changed their brand position to be more environmentally friendly. This shows they understand the importance of demonstrating sustainability credentials.

Of course, to be effective in the long term, any change in brand positioning should be genuine. Customers, employees, commentators and regulators are all rightly suspicious of brands making unsubstantiated or misleading claims about their environmental friendliness, and their perception of your brand may be different from the crafted positions you take.

This means that, ideally, the drive toward sustainability should be strategic – with a combination of economic and environmental drivers the focus for success. Our survey shows that 86% of companies think ‘sustainability’ has both economic and environmental dimensions. It’s clear that organizations cannot simply talk about the importance of environmental responsibility – their words need to be backed up by clear and decisive action.

There are signs that this is happening. In fact, social and environmental responsibility is steadily rising up the strategic corporate agenda, and our research found that the only two factors are considered more important: efficiency and financial performance. What’s more, the fourth most important item on the corporate agenda was reported to be compliance with legislation and regulation – which is, in itself, a critical part of reputation management.

Practical impacts on stakeholders

There are a wide number of ways in which sustainable energy innovations can enhance your brand perception, and these are largely dependent on the strategy you opt for.

Invest in sustainable transportation technologies, such as workplace charging points and an electric vehicle fleet, and this could start to have positive impacts not only on employees who use them, but on the local community too. Already, half of fleet owners have at least one electric or hybrid vehicle, our research shows.

Solar technologies, too, can be a visible demonstration of your environmental commitment, and can combine with battery storage for economic and resiliency benefits too. Rather than relying on traditional energy sources, you’re able to generate your own energy onsite, store this generated energy in a battery for use during times of high grid demand or grid interruptions, and may even increase profitability by reducing expenses.

Innovative energy technologies can improve brand perceptions in indirect ways, as well. According to our research, the issue of energy security and resilience is now a top four risk for companies. It’s easy to see how a power failure at a critical site or data center could cause damage to your brand. Yet solutions such as battery storage and backup generators could mitigate these issues as part of a sustainable energy strategy. This will keep you ‘always on’ and safeguarded from commercial, regulatory and market risks.

Organizations with strong future growth prospects are those that have a clear strategy for how energy can contribute to their company values. In fact, one-third of organizations who expect their annual revenue to grow by over 20% in the next five years have made a clear link between sustainable energy use and their brand image and company values.

Find out more about how Total Utilities can help you invest in sustainable energy innovations that can have a positive impact on your organisational competitiveness, environmental credentials, brand perception, and carbon emissions.