Originally published on Solar Power World by Kathie Zipp | September 6, 2017
A high point of inspiring moments from years of attending Solar Power International (SPI) was the 2016 call to action from David Kaiserman, President of Lennar Ventures. As head of one of the country’s largest homebuilding organizations, he knows how to reach consumers. His take on the solar brand, “solar captures the mind and attention of consumers,” but we as an industry get lost in a marketing jungle of tech talk and commodity driven pricing promotions.
How can we as individual companies and the industry as a whole capture the “Why” of why we exist? How can we funnel the passion we all feel about our industry’s mission through a marketing lens to effectively communicate and build brand loyalty?
One of the SPI educational sessions this year will speak to this question. Customer Acquisition: Navigating Your Way to Success on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 will include a conversation about the power of why for your solar brand.
Here’s an advanced look.
Formulating Your Solar Company’s Why
Simon Sinek wrote the bestselling novel called, Start with Why, in 2009. He explored the concept of Why and how its implementation structured the success of some of the world’s most enduring brands. Sinek outlined that Why was a hard to articulate yet critical expression of an entity’s most deeply held convictions. It is your company’s purpose, cause or belief about the mission you and your team are here to deliver, the true reason you get up every morning and ride the solarcoaster to fight another day.
Every organization functions on three levels, Sinek writes:
- What we do
- How we do it, and
- Why we do it.
“When those three pieces are aligned, it gives us a filter through which to make decisions. It provides a foundation for innovation and for building trust. When all three pieces are in balance, others will say, with absolute clarity and certainty, ‘We know who you are,’ ‘We know what you stand for,’” he states. Others including customers, prospects, staff and even potential hires.
Articulating your firm’s why, like the arduous work of synthesizing your mission down to a few words in a tagline, is worth the effort. It is the foundation for all marketing and sales initiatives.
Why creates an inspirational framework from which what and how can be delivered with innovation and flexibility. By fully understanding and communicating your Why in the market you come from your firm’s strengths as a company and create a market differentiator driven from the inside, not one malleable by outside sources.
Companies with strong Why statements move, make decisions, reach out to customers and influence the industry from the deepest core of their company DNA. They funnel the strength and power of their inherent passion into a market force to be reckoned with. At the very least they move beyond commodity manipulations to true brand authenticity.
The Power of Why on Your Solar Brand Strategy
“A strong brand, like all other intangible factors that contribute to the perception of value, starts with a clear sense of Why,” wrote Sinek.
Getting to your company’s Why means moving beyond the how and what you do as a firm. If you don’t know Why you do what you do, how can you expect anyone else much less prospects to understand it either? How can you expect to consistently articulate who you are in the marketplace if you don’t clearly understand the Why behind your solar brand?
Solar companies, like any other business sector, are normally started by visionary entrepreneurs who are motivated by their Why. The challenge is to solidify the Why as the company grows and ensure its transmission through the organization and out to the market.
When Why is properly constructed, marketing, branding, products and services become the means by which a firm can communicate to the outside world, reinforcing the Why at every turn.
Let’s look at a couple of examples. In both cases the marketing work is done by Identity3 with graphic strategy and support by Corbae Creative.
Alectris is a third party solar operations, maintenance and asset management firm whose Why centers on solar asset care innovation irrespective of what or how this innovation occurs.
Origis Energy is a utility scale energy solutions developer. Their Why reverberates from powering the solar energy revolution with projects financially engineered to be attractive to all stakeholders.
Here’s the Why, How and What of Identity3:
Here is the structure for Corbae Creative:
Articulating your firm’s Why is a process of discovery not invention. It comes from the heart of the company or as Sinek would say, the limbic brain. This part of our neocortex is responsible for our feelings, such as trust and loyalty. It is the seat of all human behavior and our decision making. It is not the capacity to create language. No wonder it is hard to express Why you exist and the passion for what you do.
In the end discovering and voicing your “Why” is one of the most crucial journeys you can take to build your differentiated solar company brand. It is an effective tool to create brand moments that communicate the magic of solar Kaiserman beckoned us to consider in 2016.
The #SPICon Panel, Customer Acquisition: Navigating Your Way to Success
Customer Acquisition: Navigating Your Way to Success
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
2:30 – 4:00 PM
Moderator: Ruben D. Ugarte, Senior Business Development Director, Horizon Solar Power
Colin Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, Wave Solar
Glenna R. Wiseman, Principal, Identity3
Kyle Cherrick, MBA, Head of Business Development, Pick My Solar
Want more information on how why can influence your solar company?
Access this article from our industry colleague and SEIA board member, Pam Cargill at Chaolysti: These Practices Will Make Your Solar Business More Successful: Pro Tips from Pamela Cargill
And meet Glenna and Aimee at SPI in Las Vegas September 10 to 14.
Meet with Us at Solar Power International
With a diverse background in design and marketing communications, including earning her marketing design chops in the building industry, Aimee got her start in the solar industry in 2000, working with Xantrex Technology, post-merger with Trace Engineering. Bringing her technical expertise together with her design and marketing experience, Aimee has helped define visual and marketing strategies for B-to-B and B-to-C solar companies national and international in scope.
Aimee founded Corbae Creative in 2002 to provide effective design and marketing communications solutions to renewable and sustainable companies. She has had the opportunity to work with amazing solar companies over the years, helping drive design and marketing strategy in unique ways. Never forgetting “effective”, Aimee works closely with marketing, sales, and engineering teams to ensure on point messaging that tells a story in a visual way.
Aimee has spoken about design as a marketing strategy in the solar industry as well as published pieces offering practical advice to help design stand out.
Glenna Wiseman is the founding principal of Identity3, a marketing services company serving the needs of solar and cleantech firms in the United States and abroad.
Wiseman has been an executive marketing professional in the solar industry since 2007. Her expertise includes work with companies along the solar supply chain from manufacturers to installers, financing entities to solar O&M providers and across continents to international firms.
Wiseman is a recognized writer and speaker within the industry, including engagements at such high-profile industry conferences as Solar Power International and Intersolar North America. Her topics frequently include customer acquisition, brand and marketing strategy and business development in emerging solar markets. She has developed content and delivered it through innovative forums including her recent work for the Energy Trust of Oregon’s 2016 soft cost reduction initiative, “Build it Bright, Crafting Your Solar Marketing Program” a series for installers now featured on HeatSpring, an educational platform serving 47,000 visitors monthly.