Kingston Hydro Case Study

The Project: 

Before 2000 Utilities Kingston had been a public institution for many years. In 2000 due to the Energy Competition Act, the public corporation was separated in to three business corporations to meet the separation requirements of the new legislation.  Until 2007 customers only knew of the corporation known as Utilities Kingston. Utilities Kingston is a company that manages the electric distribution system for Kingston Hydro and the water, sewer and natural gas systems for the City of Kingston. In 2007 the Ontario Energy Board changed the code governing the relationships between Utilities Kingston and Kingston Hydro and the need to inform customers about Kingston Hydro was created. 

Kingston Hydro needed an identity that stood out, but maintained its relationship with the Utilities Kingston organization. “We wanted the public to see the relationship” said Sandi Wright of Utilities Kingston “there needed to be a distinct separation of services but under the umbrella of one organization.” 

They wanted an updated look that would generate awareness of Kingston Hydro’s existence. “It’s always been a bit fuzzy. Kingstonians needed to know that we’re not the old PUC and that you don’t get your electricity from the city” added Brad.

Kingston Hydro originally thought they could achieve their objectives with a new logo and web site, but after consulting with BmDodo Strategic Design, they realized that they should take the new identity further. “As we moved through the process and with BmDodo, they showed us that creating an identity for our organization involved more than the design of a logo and web site, but a clear vision and strategy” said Sandi. 

The plan for a new identity developed into, new advertising, signage, promotion on vehicles and a myriad of other ways to communicate Kingston Hydro to the public. 


The Challenge:  

The foremost challenge was creating a clear new identity while effectively showing the relationship between Hydro Kingston and Utilities Kingston. Because BmDodo was not starting from scratch, there was an existing Utilities identity, they were somewhat limited in where they could go with the design of the new Hydro identity; the Hydro identity could not be a complete departure from Utilities.

The scope of the project was also a challenge. Because the identity creation was broader than originally intended, there were bound to be some roadblocks. “Initially we didn’t realize the magnitude of the project or how involved we would all become” said Sandi.  

Additionally, Hydro would need to collaborate with the City of Kingston. With so many parties involved, coming to a consensus would require some creative solutions.


The Solution: 

BmDodo set out to create a solid foundation from which the Hydro brand could grow. They produced an identity that was simple, effective and would stand the test of time. Because Hydro was the electricity provider power lines were at the heart of he identity.  “We depicted 3 power lines in a bright, electric red” said Jen Cameron, Designer at BmDodo. “Red represented power, fire, and electric energy and complimented the blue in the Utilities Kingston identity.” The red and blue also tied in the main shareholder, the City of Kingston. BmDodo’s use of colour was a subtle way to demonstrated the relationship between all of the organizations.

It was critical that the new identity reproduce well across many applications. After the identity was finished, it would be applied to a new website, letterhead and stationery, business cards, mail-outs, communication pieces for customers, banners, ad templates for the whig standard and other materials, all of which were designed by BmDodo.

Additionally, BmDodo created signage for Hydro’s facilities, fences, hydro stations, gas regulating stations, free standing signs for buildings and wraps for the hydro vehicles. Brad was particularly impressed with BmDodo when it came to the vehicle wraps. “There were some trouble getting the Pantone colours in the design to translate to auto paint. The red kept coming out a salmon pink. I was getting frustrated and needed to get the trucks out on the road, but Brian pushed back and wanted to do things properly. I appreciated that. It took a little longer than planned, but the truck look fantastic.”


The Results:  

Since launching the new identity, Kingston Hydro has had a very favourable response from the public. “We feel that the new identity helped us differentiate Hydro and that the new materials have been very well received” said Sandi.  

“I think the new identity has been great in terms of getting the name out there” said Brad “it’s going to take some time for everyone to get it, but just having the brand out there has helped already. People know more than they ever did.” Staff were pleased to hear customers referring to Kingston Hydro, customers have been coming in for government retrofit programs and asking for Kingston Hydro, which is fantastic” added Brad. “I’ve been really pleased with everything and I’m generally very critical.”

Given the complicated relationships and existing brands, the project was a challenge, but BmDodo Strategic Design made the process seamless “they offered not only clarity, but solutions. BmDodo had a really good business plan laid out and any time we came up against a road block, they had a solution” said Sandi “I think we acted on all of their suggestions and loved that they had extensive pros and cons for every situation.”

“We are very happy with the finished product” said Sandi “BmDodo has provided so much, given us a lot of guidance. I’m glad that we will have a long-term relationship because they are such a phenomenal resource. It has been a wonderful experience and we continue to get good things from BmDodo Strategic Design.”