Science created a vaccine for COVID-19 in 18 months. Another mere 18 months later, the World Health Organization declared the emergency over.
But no such rapidity of innovation will solve our climate change emergency. It will need to be attacked – the word is more accurate than “addressed” given the urgency we are dealing with – from multiple sources.
The sheer diversity of energy innovation required to give the planet a chance includes rapidly emerging sectors and platforms. An entirely new ecosystem that includes charging stations; battery technology; carbon capture; fusion power and hydrogen power; wind farms, smart grid; and predictive analytics that range from weather trends to the impact of carbon footprint reduction.
Each of these will no doubt be enormous categories. Indeed, with the existential risk to the planet, and the ticking of the risk clock, it’s no surprise that billions of dollars of investment capital are streaming – faster than Netflix – into this explosive industry. Last year, $50 billion was raised globally, and this has doubled since pre-pandemic levels.
The nascency of ClimateTech creates an unprecedented series of branding and communication challenges for this category. These are radically different from what we see in more mature sectors of the economy.
We make that point because most companies who are competing for attention and business relationships have surprisingly low awareness, even among the key audiences they need to address.
Those audiences include their customers – both b2b and consumer – as well as media and government. For public companies, there’s a surprising gap when it comes to retail investors, we know that.
That is understandable. ClimateTech companies need to focus on their surname, which is why their technological prowess exceeds their focus on building and enhancing their awareness and reputations. But to continue to ignore the imperative to build a brand is to ignore what it will take to win in the fierce battle for ClimateTech success. These companies need strategic, disciplined communication plans – combining earned media and the best of digital outreach.
So, how should the complex ClimateTech industry address these unmet opportunities?
Executed correctly, they are actually far less challenging than the deep innovation required to unlock a climate-secure future.
For CEOs and other leaders in the industry, we propose three essential steps:
Construct a differentiated narrative and translate it to all your audiences.
All too often, even innovative companies don’t spend enough time creating persuasive and motivating storytelling. A quick scan of ClimateTech websites reveals that even the innovative companies fall back on bland and undifferentiated messaging. Familiar tropes like
“Leading-Edge Technology in the Fight Against Climate Change” are everywhere.
Build small, talented, creative teams of marketers.
We know the argument against this. “Why spend on marketing or communications when I could use the money to hire two more developers?” That’s true if you look at the decision through straight mathematics. But that’s not the right lens.
What Is the Enterprise Value?
Instead, think about it this way. Marketing creates enterprise value – study after study has proven this. So, by spending smartly on marketing you will be able to hire more developers, faster.
What’s more, given that marketers are motivated to work for companies whose beliefs they share, this is a moment to attract the cream of the motivated crop.
Identify thought leaders and influencers.
Even the best technology platforms need the validation and credibility that come from being surrounded by recognized experts and thought leaders who can tell your story with the unmediated power of first-party objectivity.
Given the reach and breadth of climate tech, these can be drawn from many global sources, including academia, think tanks, NGOs, and former government officials.
The net: Make branding and storytelling a critical part of your core competency.
CleanTech will save the planet. Effective communication will make it happen faster.