Deregulated Utility Brands Need Power Surge

Having, until recently, operated in a highly regulated environment, utility companies have had little incentive to focus on competitive branding - and it shows. The latest "Corporate Brand Power" index released by Stamford, Conn.-based Corporate Branding, LLC, revealed a roster of low-scoring utility brands with little differentiation. Although the top-seeded Pacific Gas & Electric garnered a brand score of 26.3 out of a possible 100, this proved a low number compared with the 64.6 score Ford Motor Co. received in an earlier auto industry study - not to mention the whopping 70.5 points FedEx carried in a prior study of publicly traded package transportation companies. "Utilities had no real need for branding while they were providing a commodity product in a regulated industry," says James Gregory, CEO of Corporate Branding. But those who take the lead now in building brand awareness will have more leverage in winning new customers and penetrating new markets in the future, he says. Corporate Brand Power scores are derived through interviews with key corporate decision-makers (i.e., VPs and other execs) in the top 20 percent of U.S. corporations. In this case, 215 interviewees were asked to rank utility companies in terms of familiarity and favorability. (801/583-8296)

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