As one of the largest utilities in the United States, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) was struggling to balance competing priorities—focusing on the fundamentals of energy delivery and service, and innovating to lead the fight against climate change. Moreover, they wanted to become a customer-centric organization.
PG&E enlisted Wolff Olins to create a purpose-led brand that could unify their leadership, inspire their employees, and encapsulate their ambition. We worked with them to create the brand idea, Smart and Simple Everyday, which conveyed how PG&E would improve internally and for customers. This idea became a powerful mantra for PG&E, helping to align management and employees to better serve customer needs.
One of the first tangible outcomes of our work was a series of animated videos that clearly and simply explained important energy issues to PG&E’s customers. California’s unique regulatory environment adds a lot of complexity to people’s energy bills and rates, and these videos helped people understand where their costs were coming from, and what they could do on their own, and with PG&E’s help, to reduce those costs. This foundational understanding made energy, and energy bills, simpler to understand.
We also led a customer-centric initiative to reorganize PG&E’s portfolio of over 200 products and services. When we began, the portfolio was confusing to both customers and employees because its organization was largely defined by complicated regulatory requirements. We reorganized and simplified the portfolio around customer needs, resulting in a framework that helps PG&E understand not just what customers need, but why they need it, enabling PG&E to offer relevant energy-saving solutions instead of one-off products.
By helping PG&E understand a customer’s energy engagement path and providing messaging guidance at each stage, marketing is more efficient because it can offer the right product to the right person at the right time. By offering people simpler, more relevant ways to save, and by proving a utility could help, PG&E is improving the likelihood that customers will engage, save, and have a better relationship with the utility.
The brand idea has helped organize and align PG&E. The videos have been used online, in community sessions, and during employee trainings, giving employees and customers alike a way to speak the same language. The work continues to be rolled out, including the portfolio reorganization that will further simplify PG&E’s customer experience.