Branding a little energy company with a big heart

Brand Strategy, Marketing & Website

Toast is a little electricity provider with a big difference – and big ambitions here in Wellington.

More Information

Sustainability Trust is a social enterprise offering sustainable living solutions in Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui and are the driving force behind a new electricity company for the Wellington region. They came to us to help bring the company to life, starting with a new name. With noble goals of eliminating energy hardship, lowering household carbon emissions and keeping people warm and happy the name had to be different — unexpected even. As we worked together we uncovered some interesting ideas: like the revival of the word electric over power, and the importance of synesthesia where words are sensed as colours and shapes. It didn’t take long for Toast to out-shine the others. Interestingly from a neurological perspective, the word toast tastes like toast; the word reinforces itself across multiple senses. It’s also the  perfect snack, and more generally speaking, demonstrates that with a little warmth one thing, a piece of bread, a marshmallow, whatever is transformed.

Uncovering a brand strategy for a new business is always a challenge. Toast needs to be be trusted with the very critical role of providing electricity to customers. And as a not-for-profit Toast is committed to bring people out of energy hardship and with their extensive network have joined forces with some very capable partners to make this a reality.

Their parent company, Sustainability Trust, has a wealth of experience and resources from working in the sustainability sector for over 20 years and is optimistic they can deliver significant change to households where other larger energy companies cannot. As they are catering for two different audiences – everyday households and those in energy hardship – they are very aware that they had to keep things simple.

Even though Toast are keenly focussed on being affordable doesn’t mean they can afford to be dull. We added playfulness to their brand values, particularly in their messaging and interactions helps them become customer relationships. Trusted, committed, optimistic, simple and playful. 

With Toast, you can come home to a welcoming space that’s warm and dry, knowing that at the end of the day you’ve also shared a little bit of warm fuzzy goodness with your local community because Toast are all about taking good care of you, the wider community and our precious resources. These feelings led the creation of their value proposition: The little energy company with a big heart.

In a world littered with icons, badges and logos we decided early on that a clear logotype was the way forward for Toast: The name would be enough. Starting with a typeface that dripped with warmth and personality we crafted a logotype that stood out from the expected cold sans serif marks seen in other energy companies.

Toast’s system is made up of four elements: colour (inspired by thermal imagery), typography, illustration, and photography. When viewed collectively, these elements provide the senses of transformation, warmth and playfulness. We created a system to define how elements should be combined, and when. The visual language exhibits transformation as colours blends into each other just as warmth can transfer from one object to another, while simple messaging communicates reliability and trust. The unexpected typeface with its playful curves and organic shapes conveys Toast’s personal touch, enhanced with hand drawn illustrations. Layers add depth, communicating a sense of transparency, trust, and openness.

The website would be most customers’ first experience with the brand and we embraced the opportunity to bring the playful aspect of the brand to life. Mouse interactions, custom scroll and hover states help bring the fun, with robust CMS throughout including the energy saying tips and FAQs. Fully responsive, easily updatable and deeply integrated into their CRM. Visit and maybe signup yourself.

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