Bill Johnson, Progress Energy
From Coca-Cola to Nike to Intel, brands are powerful forces in our society and logos symbolize the brands they represent. Consumers quickly develop perceptions about companies and frequently choose products or services based on brands. Companies have begun to rely heavily on their brand as an asset, like the facilities, property and equipment they own.
In the past decade, brands have become a bigger part of the energy industry even though many companies continue to operate in a predominately regulated environment. Companies like Dominion and Southern Company have developed recognizable brands that are important to their success. These energy companies and others that have developed strong brands are building positive reputations among their existing customers, positioning themselves well for future business opportunities and enabling themselves to weather potential crisis situations well.
Our own story
In December 2000, Carolina Power & Light (CP&L) acquired Florida Progress, which was the parent company of the utility Florida Power. Progress Energy became the parent company of those utilities. The diversified family of companies under the Progress Energy umbrella serves more than 2.7 million customers from Central Florida to North Carolina, with power generation facilities and gas wells as far west as Colorado.
The process of unifying the companies under the Progress Energy brand began just after the merger, but the two utility companies maintained their pre-merger brand names for a two-year transition period. During that time, the subsidiaries were endorsed by the parent company brand and carried the new Progress Energy “energy star” logo.
On Jan. 1, 2003, Progress Energy took another significant step when all of its major business units and subsidiaries were united under one brand and identity. The two major electric utility companies, CP&L and Florida Power, were re-branded Progress Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Florida respectively. This move to the Progress Energy brand name was an important step in communicating the expanded scope of the company’s capabilities. With this common brand, the company can build a stronger reputation with customers, investors and communities. It will also serve as the platform for a single, unified culture.
Although the name change is official, the process is not complete. Customers will not see the names on their electric bills change until March 2003, and the company continues to rebrand facilities, signs, vehicles, attire, advertising and community sponsorships with the Progress Energy name and logo. The entire process is expected to be complete within two years.
Your brand is important
Like a company’s physical assets, a brand takes time and effort to build. Research has shown that customers are accustomed to dealing with companies that change their names and are enthusiastic about the Progress Energy name. Of course, it will take some time for customers to adjust to the new names of their 100-year-old utility companies. During this process, the company will assure customers that the people they count on to provide reliable electric service have not changed. In fact, the new names will serve as a sign of a renewed commitment to deliver affordable and reliable service to valued customers
Moving forward, a single brand identity for all of its subsidiaries will help position Progress Energy as a dynamic, diverse company—a company with the energy to do more. We will continue to build a single culture powered by people, driven by performance and committed to excellence, one that has what it takes to become a truly great energy company.
Johnson is president & CEO of the Progress Energy Service Co. based in Raleigh, N.C.