Creating the future of energy, together
AES is a Fortune 500 global energy company. The global energy market has been undergoing unprecedented disruption in recent years. AES has been leading the transformation in the energy sector and transforming as a company with a focus on innovation, local investment in its communities and working with customers to create a carbon-free energy future for everyone. However, the new business strategy AES has been executing and the transformation the company has been undergoing was not accurately reflected in its current brand and did not fully convey to its many different stakeholders who AES is, what they offer, and what they can do. This was the genesis for the AES – Wolff Olins partnership.
The AES brand is relatively unknown outside the energy sector, and the local market brands often eclipsed the AES parent brand. AES asked us to start with an assessment of their brand portfolio across markets and across stakeholders.
Rigor and creativity
The project began with a brand assessment. We collated existing AES research and conducted our own with visits to eleven AES markets to audit the brand in place and interview a diverse set of internal and external stakeholders. We synthesized the results into brand scorecards to perform a robust analysis by market, brand or stakeholder.
The assessment confirmed that AES’ 14 markets are at different stages of development. It also revealed an opportunity for closer collaboration between AES and its customers to build new kinds of energy solutions. This persuaded AES to move towards a singular, unified AES masterbrand centered on partnership to support and amplify the business strategy. We described the boldness of this ambition as “Accelerating the future of energy, together”.
The subsequent phases of the project included building on the brand strategy to develop its expression and migration from being a portfolio of loosely connected companies to an integrated business. To enable true transformation, the Wolff Olins team worked in close collaboration with AES to engage the entire organization with multiple in-market workshops and planning sessions.
The new AES brand goes beyond a logo change. We helped AES form the messaging around how the company talks about themselves with its many stakeholders, including the stories they tell and the tone use when telling them. We created a visual identity, including logo, typography treatment, iconography, and photography approach, to be used in all of AES communications, both online and offline.
The visual expression bridges the legacy that AES has built with the future it is accelerating. The connected letterforms and the gradient treatment create a forward motion, which represents the spirit of working together towards the future. The lowercase letterforms and human way of writing the letters reflects the personal approach that our brand takes. The word itself can be written in one line, illustrating close collaboration “all together.” The colors are more vibrant, bright and fresh. There is an energy that comes from the word itself.
The gradient line is the foundational element of AES’ visual identity. Forming the logo, it represents AES’ unique ability to respond to its customers’ needs and to tailor solutions around them. The transition to green reflects the connection between the company’s history and future, and the shape functions as a literal connection that brings together all of the visual elements in the system.
This behavioral core asset is supplemented by a paired back visual system that embraces the functional qualities of Neue Haas Grotesk. A story-based photography approach showcases AES’ technology for the future of energy, but also puts the focus on the customers, communities and countries they partner with along the way.
Operationalizing the brand
This project went beyond conventional marketing and communications into the operations of the business. The process was highly participative and involved a large, diverse group of internal and external stakeholders to shape and validate the work.
In late October 2020, AES launched the brand externally and celebrated the announcement with the virtual ringing of the New York Stock Exchange bell.
“AES has become a global leader in the transformation of the energy sector. Together with our customers, we are accelerating a greener, smarter future. The new AES brand, developed together with our people, key stakeholders and Wolff Olins, encompasses that message and purpose.”
AES President and Chief Executive Officer