Accelerating rebranding: Top 5 learnings on how E.ON redefined itself in record time

Accelerating rebranding: Top 5 learnings on how E.ON redefined itself in record time

Learn everything about E.ON's rebranding by watching the recording of our OMR Festival Masterclass 2024.

Energy supply? For a long time, this topic was as exciting for many people as signing an insurance contract. But that’s over now: The shift to renewable energies is one of the central societal tasks to improve the future. E.ON, one of Europe's largest operators of energy networks and energy infrastructure, has strategically repositioned itself and sees itself as a playmaker for change. Find out all the details in the summary of our OMR Festival Masterclass!

Let’s get one thing straight: This is about more than just a rebranding. It’s about purpose. Long-term goals. “Making new energy work.”

What happens if you transform a Europe-wide company at its core, and nobody notices? It’s time to act! With full backing from the E.ON board, the E.ON branding team, in collaboration with the Peter Schmidt Group, a well-known brand and design agency within Germany, asked a central question: What does it take to boldly look forward and embrace change? The first step was to highlight strategic elements that already existed within the company to identify the true core of the brand. This raised a second question: How do we communicate this new purpose externally? All agencies involved — from traditional to digital — joined forces to continuously and iteratively bring E.ON's purpose to life.

Find a recap of our Masterclass from the OMR Festival 2024 with Frauke Lubcja (E.ON), Alexander Zirkel (E.ON), Kristin Janoschka (Peter Schmidt Group), Felix Damerius (Peter Schmidt Group), and Nicolas Hürner (Frontify) here. Note that the recording below is in German.

Top 5 insights for a successful Europe-wide rebranding

1. Team player over competitive thinking: Multiple agencies, departments, and countries — how do you ensure everyone works together in such a massive project? From the pitch phase to parallel development: Precise task distribution and clearly defined responsibilities are key to success. Structure leads to results! Another crucial aspect? Always beta! Instead of perfecting every detail before the launch, the E.ON rebranding was approached in phases. This allowed continuous improvements and learnings without excessive feedback loops and endless theoretical questioning. Test and optimize. Together, not against each other.

2. Brand is always a leadership matter: A crucial success factor was having E.ON CEO Leon Birnbaum on board. This top-down support made the process more agile. It signaled a clear commitment from leadership to the new claim, the new brand appearance — but most importantly — to the conviction that E.ON takes responsibility and makes a difference. This was particularly beneficial, given the tight timeline. Having someone drive the project and demand decisions accelerated the process immensely.

3. A strategic platform for everyone: With Frontify, E.ON has a platform that everyone can connect to. To reflect what a brand stands for and the stories it tells, it is necessary to have a platform that stands for the brand long-term. It’s not just about external communication success. Internally — especially in large, Europe-wide companies — it serves as a foundation for fundamental discussions. The platform serves as a constant reminder of the commitment to the brand claim and its significance.

4. Strengthen what makes the brand strong: When thinking about strong moves in a rebranding, you might consider radical changes. The E.ON team and the Peter Schmidt Group initially discussed this possibility. But in this case, enduring strength, established over 25 years, outweighed radical changes. And that strength is embodied in E.ON’s red color. Both the color and the logo are key recognition factors for the company. Building on this, the brand gained a new facet with modern techniques, CGI, and motion graphics, conveying the brand's realignment and digital focus. The result: a dynamic, flexible design system that evolves continuously.

5. Team member, not service provider: “Like a family”: Connected by a common goal, an enjoyable process, and a partnership at eye level lead to better results. This approach enabled the team to tackle challenges and create a strong new E.ON brand in just a few months.


Still have questions? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers from the live Q&A of the OMR Masterclass:

  • Do employees live the brand more at the headquarters versus in other countries? And how difficult is it to communicate the rebranding to other markets? There are indeed differences between markets, but in a positive way: Some markets had many more questions, especially regarding the brand claim. For example, how can the main English claim, “It’s on us,” be understood in Poland and adapted to local conditions? Such questions help reflect on the overall strategy and test its functionality on a European level. Generally, though, the positivity and excitement from the headquarters help bring markets along on the journey.

  • How do you prioritize in an “always beta” approach? The brand management team focused on the so-called basic elements. To keep everyone working, focusing on the core brand elements was essential. Major events with significant external impact were addressed immediately and implemented with the new design, even if not everything was finalized. A must-have plan for the year served as a guide, with priorities adjusted continuously through short sprints.

- Why such a tight three-month timeframe? With board involvement and a leadership eager for quick implementation, the team agreed on a launch date at E-world in Essen, Europe’s largest energy trade fair. It was a self-imposed pressure that led to good results because everyone was focused. A clear advantage over campaigns where the energy can wane over a prolonged process. Goal-oriented and decisive.

- What learnings can be shared if the leadership doesn’t initially support such a venture? Even in a technology-driven company like E.ON, the brand isn’t the top priority. Therefore, it was crucial to have internal and external allies and the right data showing that something needed to be done. Analyses and facts must show there’s a problem to be solved, as this isn’t just a marketing issue but a fundamental and strategic one for the company. Additionally, it's about emotionally engaging leadership. Engaging them, making the idea tangible, and keeping an interactive exchange.

- Why did E.ON choose Frontify and not create its own brand portal? Firstly, because we had already successfully collaborated on other projects. Secondly, because of the excellent experiences with Frontify and its team. A partner with a hands-on approach is especially important when executing a project of this magnitude in such a short time. Additionally, with Frontify, we can quickly and efficiently provide topics that the development team implements.