Reliant Energy (formerly Houston Industries)

Reliant Energy logo

Houston Industries, parent company of Houston Lighting & Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in the United States, was undertaking a number of strategic initiatives to position itself for success in a deregulated and increasingly competitive environment. The company had acquired NorAm Energy, a major natural gas company with a portfolio of well-known retail distribution brands in the United States. Houston Industries was also expanding aggressively in national and global wholesale energy markets.

Key audiences, including the investment community, large commercial customers, and potential business partners, were largely unaware of the company’s true size or the scope of its capabilities and resources. Competitors were investing heavily in building strong, single brands and were effectively positioning themselves as major global players in the energy industry. Houston Industries, however, was still perceived as the holding company for a single Texas electric utility.

Lister Butler analyzed Houston Industries’ business strategy, energy industry trends, the company’s existing brand identity and communications practices, and the positioning and brand identity strategies of major competitors, and conducted research among customers and the investment community. We determined that a new positioning and brand identity strategy was needed to achieve the recognition and accurate perceptions necessary to support management’s business goals. Lister Butler developed a new brand identity strategy and system, including the Reliant Energy name, that presented the company as a unified organization with a wide range of capabilities in energy and related services.