Blog

News, Tips and Inspiration for Utility Communicators



Cooperatives, PUDs and MUDs are invested in their communities. Find out how utilities highlight local youth with Inside the Magazine’s timely, engaging utility content from Ruralite, Florida Currents and Currents magazines.

It is always a good time to remind drivers to take precautions around school buses and utility vehicles. Many utilities gave safety reminders on their back pages, including Kittitas PUD.

How does your utility support youth education? Model your program after Valley Electric’s annual Fill the Bucket school supply drive in the share package.

Scholarships and youth programs are great opportunities to tell the stories of your local students, such as Graham County Electric’s feature story.

Click the links below for more magazine content ideas and shareables.

Important note: If you are interested in reprinting any of the features in the share package, you should contact the communicator at the utility that published the feature for permission. We include a list of the utilities’ phone numbers and contact people who have examples in the share package.

If you are interested in reprinting Ruralite features, please contact info@ruralite.org or your local editor.

Back Pages

Share Package

Feature Stories

Read More

NWPPA and Ruralite Debut New Tools, Messages in September

You love public power. We love public power. But does the public care?

Most consumers do not understand why a public power utility is different from other energy sources. As long as the lights come on and bills are not too steep, they are more likely talking about tailgating for Saturday’s Oregon Ducks game or debating HBO’s Game of Thrones finale.

Can we change that?

The Northwest Public Power Association Board of Trustees wanted tools to help utilities communicate why public power matters. The board called for a fresh, modern message easily delivered across print and digital channels. They wanted something to break through the wall (with permission from Jon Snow, of course) and reach 21st century consumers.

NWPPA and Ruralite Services joined forces to create MORE Powerful Together, a consumer-focused effort illustrating how consumers get more than just energy from community-owned utilities.

The first batch of materials debuts Tuesday, September 19, at the Northwest Communications and Energy Innovations Conference in Sacramento, California. Want a sneak preview? Well of course you do.

 

Focus Group Finds

The MORE Powerful Together materials are based on research with regional utility leaders and consumer focus groups. We want to:

  • Leverage direct benefits to the consumer and align with consumers’ expectations of involvement. Focus on consumer-inspired experience.
  • Show the real value public power provides and the benefits of engaging.
  • Be focused, succinct, and inspiring.
  • Make consumers feel like part of an on-going conversation.

Public power matters. By buying energy from a community-owned utility, consumers become more than customers or numbers. They are partners. We are MORE Powerful Together.

 

Key Messages

Over the next year we will roll out four sets of engagement tools focused on these key messages:

  • LOCAL
  • INNOVATIVE
  • EXPERT
  • DRIVEN

Easy-to-customize templates will help Ruralite and NWPPA members launch a powerful, locally branded call for engagement. Every utility is unique, so we will provide different sets of copy to support the key messages. Pick the message that best fits you.

What kind of content can you expect? We’re creating:

  • Print ads
  • Social media posts
  • Leadership editorials
  • Website content
  • Pop-up banner art for utility lobbies, community events
  • Posters
  • Best practice webinars

 

Excited? We are, too.

Don’t miss the general session about this powerful initiative on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Northwest Communications and Energy Innovations Conference.

MORE Powerful Together is more than a campaign. It’s a mission. Together we will launch a powerful movement to educate and engage consumers about why public power matters. See you in Sacramento!

Read More

Anniversary gifts can be tricky. Why pick from paper, wood, silver, gold or diamond gifts when you could opt for a solid design, instead?

Whether your utility has powered the community for 25 years or is approaching the centennial mark, a logo unifies celebration messages.

Last week, utility communicators across the nation shared examples of anniversary logos on NRECA’s Communicators Listserv (NRECA members can view the conversation here). We thought we’d join the fun by sharing a few of our favorite examples, too.

 

Celebrate You

Lewiston, Idaho-based Clearwater Power used iconic elements from their rural area—trees, fish, deer, wheat and power lines—to create a 75th anniversary logo in 2012.

The original design was packed with detail. There were layers of needles on the evergreen trees and eye, nose and shading definition on the deer.

Clearwater Power Marketing and Communications Specialist Jeff Marshall refreshed the logo in 2017. He stripped it down and improved on an already good design. Using simple silhouettes versus gradients make the design stronger and more versatile.

Comparison of two Clearwater Power logos

The original 2012 logo, left, and the updated 2017 logo.

For the most impact, keep images incorporated into a logo focused on a few recognizable, clearly defined icons. Aim for clean, simple lines; avoid too much detail.

 

Get Creative with Numbers

What’s the best part about evenly-spaced anniversaries? The frame-like shapes of the numbers. Most anniversaries end in a five or zero. Both numbers easily become powerful shapes for logo design.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative in Fredericksburg, Virginia, brilliantly used the numbers seven and five to create a utility pole and circle for the years of their incorporation. This design may be four years old, but it still feels fresh and fun.

REC logo example

Rappahannock Electric’s logo turned a seven and a five into a utility pole.

Yampa Valley Electric Association in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, turned the tops of the numbers seven and five into a thick line, cleverly framing the co-op’s years of service. The utility also used two contrasting colors (black for the utility name, red for the year) to highlight the milestone.

Although it’s smart to design in monotone (the best designs translate easily into black and white), colors can be a powerful way to add impact to a logo.

YVEA logo example

YVEA’s milestone logo merged the top of two numbers to create a thick line.

 

Mohave Electric Cooperative in Bullhead City, Arizona, filled the zero in 70 and added an electric bolt inside the circle, connecting the milestone year to the utility.

 

Several other utilities used the zero in eighty or seventy to frame an image and the celebration milestone. While turning numbers into frames can work really well, be careful not to pack too much detail into a small frame.

 

Three logos with the zero used as a design element.

These examples from Arkansas and Alabama use the zero as a design element.

 

Rest on your Laurels

Laurel leaves, a Greek symbol of victory and honor, pop up in several utility anniversary logos. Makes sense—public power utilities have won several battles for consumers since founded.

Clatskanie PUD used laurel leaves behind their milestone year in a 2013 logo. Because of the utility’s focus on service, the icon works.

In the same way, Blachly-Lane Electric Co-op wanted to focus on a long history of service. Laurel leaves on either side of the co-op’s signature oval logo shape was an easy way to create a temporary logo design for 2017.

Two examples of logos with laurels.

These examples celebrate service and honor by adding laurel leaves to the design.

We Can Help

We love working with public power utilities to find fun ways to celebrate milestones. We can also help you update your current logo. To learn how Blachly-Lane Electric worked with Ruralite earlier this year to refresh their logo and create a complementary anniversary design, read our portfolio post. Want to get to work? Email us today.

Read More
The Color Wheel, Reimagined

The Color Wheel, Reimagined


Posted By on Aug 16, 2017

Trying to pick colors for a page layout, or looking for inspiration to freshen your brand hues? Since the 1800s, designers have used color wheels to identify which colors work well together to set a tone or draw attention.

Adobe Color CC takes the color wheel online, offering three ways to find fresh color combinations.

Duy Mai uses Adobe Color CC to help Ruralite members find strong color combinations.

Browse for Bright Ideas

Start at Color.Adobe.com/Explore. You will see sample color mixes from designers around the world. On the top left drop-down menu, select “Most popular” to find current color trends.

Need to evoke a specific feeling? Search palette names in the top right search box. The feature is hit or miss, since color names are highly subjective. But you might find a fun, unexpected mix.

Looking for the colors for a brand (Seahawks or 49ers fans, anyone?) or a palette to match an occasion? You can search for brand names or generic events, too.

 

Pull Colors from a Picture 

Upload an image to find five colors that convey a colorful, muted or deep meaning.

After adding a picture, use the left drop-down navigation pane to set a mood (colorful, bright, muted, deep or dark). Each option picks five different colors from the picture to help evoke a feeling. You can also use the custom option to handpick five colors from the picture.

 

Custom Blends

Ready to create your own color combinations? Use the manual color wheel at Color.Adobe.com.

Enter a color you want to work with. If your logo uses NRECA’s green ball icon, enter the green RGB color (Pantone 348, RGB 0/132/61).

Now use the drop-down color rule menu to view analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary or compound colors. Want to stay close to home? Opt for shades of the selected color. You can also pick five colors you think pair well with each other, using the custom option.

 

Save Your Colors

Find an inspiring color palette? You do not need an Adobe membership to use Adobe Color CC, but you must be a member to save the colors you discover. If you are an Adobe Creative Cloud member, save your palettes to other Adobe software (i.e. PhotoShop, InDesign, Illustrator). Otherwise, take a screen shot and jot down the formulas (RGB or CMYK) for your favorites.

Need help finding a Pantone color (used by printers) that matches a screenshot? Adobe Illustrator’s Recolor Artwork tool (Edit> Edit Colors> Recolor Artwork) can help. If you do not have the software, your editor can work with you to find a Pantone color that works for your brand. Screen and printing colors will always be different, so keep that in mind.

 

Mobile Color Mixes

Need more tools to find fresh color blends? Try the Adobe Capture CC app (iTunes, Google Play). The app makes it easy to pull colors out of your surroundings. You can also turn pictures into vector shapes or brushes, then make the files available in Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator.

The app is free to download, but you must sign in with your Adobe Creative Cloud password to use the features.

Read More
Why Colors Matter

Why Colors Matter


Posted By on Aug 9, 2017

Color palettes unify, strengthen a brand’s image

Your colors—whether used in a logo, brochure or website—are part of your company’s brand.

Colors can make people feel hungry or sated, happy or sad. People bring individual experiences to the meaning of colors, too. For fun examples, watch this video of your peers sharing favorite colors. Once you pick your brand’s set of colors, tie those colors into all of the materials produced throughout the year.

 

Less is more

How many colors should your brand’s color palette include? Follow the rule of thumb designers follow for fonts; stick to two or three colors for consistency.

Unsuccessful designs may use five or six different fonts. There is no consistency, which can make the creative feel unprofessional and disjointed. You can use more than one font, but do it thoughtfully. When using contrasting fonts, have a clear purpose in mind to draw attention to a key word or phrase.

The same guideline can be used for color. Pick a primary color, then add a color or two that complement or contrast the primary color. Use those colors when you want to draw attention to something.

Remember, less is more. It’s nice to have font and color options when designing for your utility, but you do not need to use all of your options all of the time.

 

Colorful Examples

Ruralite Services’ member colors are mainly navy blues and forest greens. There are few pastels or neon colors used. For the most part, utilities opt for safe, traditional colors. But as we work to connect with younger consumers, we should consider colors that resonate with a younger crowd, too.

Consumers Power’s  combination of blue and orange is nice and bright. It’s a good example of a fresh color palette. The colors pair well on the logo. The website plays the colors off each other, and some magazine pages use the colors to draw attention to headlines.

Picture of CPI logo, website and newsletter page.

Umatilla Electric’s logo is another fun example of a bright, friendly color palette. The utility uses one primary color—a bright blue—on their logo and website. A lighter shade of the color is used on the back of the magazine, complementing the primary color.

Picture of UEC's logo and website.

Be Color Blind, Too

Not all communications are in color (forms, for example), and some utilities do not use color regularly on their magazine pages.

Although powerful, always remember design does not start with color. Some people are so tied to color that it blinds them to the actual design. Color can be a distraction in the early stages of designing a logo or other graphic.

Working on a design? See what it looks like in black and white, first. An easy way to test a design’s strength is to use a photocopier to make a black and white copy of your work. See how the bones of the design or layout—not the color—stand out.

Read More