Following a recent rebrand and expansion of the company, Michael Dent (Managing Director, Inprova Energy) reflects on the importance of trust, values and brand to the success of a business.
The struggles of high growth firms in making a smooth transition from small to mid-size and beyond are well documented. One of the most challenging part of this journey can be retaining the values of that small business as new people join and formal processes replace more intuitive, personalised practices.
During this process of change it is just as important to not only formalise, but communicate, the purpose, values and ethics which are at the heart of the original venture as it is to introduce standard operating procedures and other process required to run a larger enterprise.
Re-branding goes beyond a logo
In our recent rebranding exercise we placed trust at the centre of our business and growth strategy. This was the final stage of bringing together three already well-established energy consultancies (energyTEAM, ENER-G Procurement and UES Energy) under one banner – Inprova Energy. Trust, together with transparency and integrity, are embedded into the fabric of our company. Although Inprova Energy is one of the UK's top ten business energy consultancies we have no desire to be the biggest: our ambition is simply to be the most trusted.
However, the re-branding was much more than a change of name and logo. It gave us a valuable opportunity to stop and think, to clarify and articulate our vision for the new business. A crucial element of this task was the challenge of clearly setting out our values in way to give meaning to our brand and bring it to life for colleagues and customers.
Working with our colleagues from sites in Cheshire, Warwickshire, Sussex and Caerphilly through a series of team-building events, workshops and discussions this work has been brought together as the “Inprova Way”, a new mission statement for the business, to “provide our customers with world class services through an absolute commitment to innovation, service and value". We aim to achieve this ”within a culture of honesty and integrity for our employees, customers and suppliers”.
As we’ve had to bring together teams and colleagues from across the UK, we have tried to ensure that everybody both understood and appreciated the vision and values behind the brand. We are by no means where we want to be yet. We have had logistical, process and cultural challenges along the way. But we are certainly heading in the right direction. To support us in these efforts we also created a Brand Champions Forum – a team of volunteers from all levels, functions and sites – whose role is to help make the brand visible and meaningful for all our people.
An exercise for everyone
I would strongly recommend this process to any business as part of their strategic development process. Purpose, values and vision should go well beyond buzzwords on a wall (although they can be this as well) – they need to be integral to the way the business operates and takes decisions. To this point, we believe it is so important to keep this exercise and our values at the front of our minds that we keep them under review – alongside crunching the numbers – at our Board meetings.
It isn’t just Inprova which thinks this is important. The recently published “Purpose Toolkit” and work on purpose driven brands by Business in the Community clearly identifies the importance of putting a clear purpose at the heart of your operations. Not only do young people entering the workforce for the first time want, increasingly, to work with companies with a purpose that is embedded in the business (60% of Millennials) but research from Havas Media indicates that purposeful businesses stock market peers by as much as 133%.
Business success, now and into the future, will in our view be inextricably linked with being able to live your values in a way which supports business retention and growth.
The energy consultancy industry, particularly the procurement side, is relatively new and has been lightly regulated – giving rise to a small number of rogue operators, who have tarnished the reputation of our profession. This is a challenge for the majority of professional operators such as ourselves. This context, alongside our rebranding, has been a catalyst for us to redouble our efforts to demonstrate total transparency in everything we do and to make sure we earn the trust and respect of our clients by putting their needs first.
We are on a journey with our brand, vision and values; a journey which we encourage companies of all sizes and sectors to engage with and one which we are delighted to be supported on by Business in the Community.
Find out more about the work of Inprova Energy online here.