When people are asked to “name a high profile entrepreneur” the usual answer is “Richard Branson” or perhaps Stelios. Maybe even Bannantyne.
But a new businessman is blazing a trail for the hottest PR profile around. Dale Vince has ideas for energy. His company Ecotricity has invested millions in green energy since its set-up in 1996, and is championing solar power and wind power in a way that is rattling the cages of the traditional energy providers. Ecotricity is now the seventh-largest retail supplier of electricity in the UK and one of the biggest builders of wind turbines. Vince, founder and owner, could be worth up to £100m.
Increasingly, Vince is creeping into the public consciousness, an anoraked, surfer-haired, wind-swept visionary for a greener, slightly less smoggy future, and he must be driving the power giants mad. Firstly there’s the copyright war with EDF over the green Union Jack. Then there’s the ongoing battle with local councils to resurrect more of his awe-inspiring wind farms.
What about the press ads challenging Sir Richard Branson to discuss his green plan for the future and lobbying government to use the money spent on fuel poverty allowances to build the Severn Barrage energy generation scheme?
What Vince demonstrates to me is the often-touted maxim that a good idea without the right execution is, well, a bit of a waste of time really.
Ecotricity is offering consumers something genuinely different – but more importantly, its founder is championing a singular, consistent message in a challenging controversial way. He’s built his brand around his persona in a direct snub to the faceless energy brands and acknowledged that a business with a personality will always be more compelling than a conglomerate with a logo – whether that logo is green or not.
It’s a lesson to us all in how to wake up and disturb a complacent market, and a case study in launching a personality brand.