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A smart energy service to power Quebec’s future

“Hilo is like a startup inside Hydro-Québec. We’re reinventing both the model and how we do business. To bring such an ambitious project to market, we needed a partner like lg2, who was ready to roll up their sleeves with us and dare to think differently.”

Vanessa Moisan-Willis

Vice-President, Marketing and Business Development, Hilo by Hydro-Québec

For the past 75 years, Hydro-Québec has led the way in innovation and clean energy. It’s no surprise then that the Crown corporation has set out to prepare Quebec for tomorrow with the launch of its subsidiary Hilo. The goal? Redefine citizens’ relationship to energy to give them more control and autonomy. Smart home, self-generation, building automation, storage, electric mobility, charging stations – today we are at the dawn of a major energy shift. Acting as business partners right from the start, lg2 teams contributed their energy to Hydro-Québec’s teams to help dream up, define, develop and switch on this new smart energy service.

“We’ve pretty much put all our areas of expertise to work on Hilo, from business strategy to user experience. Bringing a major new product to market is exciting. Contributing to its design even more so.”

Sophie-Annick Vallée

Vice-President, Strategy, lg2

Collective project, collective effort

By adopting an iterative methodology that combined consultation and co-creation, lg2 and Hydro-Québec worked as a single entity throughout the process. The first critical question addressed: What are we selling exactly, and to whom?

Following an in-depth analysis of the market and workshops with key stakeholders, it became clear that we needed to sell a smart energy service, not just connected products. The task was massive: position the new service as a global solution for a sustainable future. At its core, Hilo is a service with a mission that radiates far beyond its technical functionalities. This required a shift in the Crown corporation’s marketing approach, especially with heavyweights like Google and Videotron taking a competitive position in the market. We decided the smartest way to handle a non-standard business model was to act as a startup.

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A customer-focused strategy

Specific personas were defined in detail by crossing data from Environics and Vividata as well as behavioural studies to arrive at a concrete strategy centred on the customer. These personas, each with their respective needs, became the lenses through which we developed the experience, offer and communications.

An app built with and for users

To build the customer experience, a team of senior UX and UI experts worked for nearly a year with Hydro-Québec teams at the client’s offices. They scripted, designed and developed the app that would become the heart of the service’s residential component. A year prior to launch, 1,000 testers were brought on board to actively participate in shaping the experience though continuous feedback.

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A modern, expert and caring brand

When it came time to outfit the new service with a name, form and tone, the team drew inspiration from the idea of a group of homes described by the French word îlot (“block or cluster”). The addition of the initial letter “H” created a stronger link to the parent brand.

From a graphic standpoint, the orange dot of the “i” in Hilo evokes the light from a lighthouse or star that guides and watches over us. Expanding, shrinking, multiplying and dividing, the dot is a common element running across the entire spectrum of the new service. Borrowing the same orange colour and typography of the Hydro-Québec brand, Hilo is immediately associated with rigour and expertise.

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Coherent experience, from e-comm to customer service

To ensure the brand is consistently expressed across platforms, a modular design system was developed. The typography, colours, illustration and photographic approach work together to create a modern, evolving and modular language.

The tone at all touchpoints, from customer service to app notifications, was also defined. Speaking in a direct, confident and accessible manner, the brand streamlines complex concepts related to smart homes and the energy transition so that they’re easily understood.

“Hilo represents a collective effort, where all Quebecers are invited to take action to spark lasting change and become leading players in efficient energy management. Together, we can make smarter energy usage a reality.”

Sébastien Fournier

CEO, Hilo

A societal project that begins at home

Hilo is a major project that will impact residential and business consumption, and electric mobility over time. Before launching the first offer, we needed to firmly anchor the brand’s long-term vision and lay the groundwork. Starting in the fall of 2019, the public was introduced to Hilo’s mission through an editorial strategy that allowed us to reach targeted decision makers and citizens. A year later, the first offer of the residential component was ready to enter the market.

Hilo, simply smart

Hilo launched its offer in fall 2020. Explaining an entirely new service with no counterpart is a considerable challenge, which the brand successfully addressed by using stories to humanize Hilo’s service and concretely illustrate its benefits. The goal: make Hilo a lifestyle choice, not a functional brand.

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In content and relationship marketing, Hilo adopted a hyper-personalized approach, with messages aligned with the needs and interests of each potential customer, supporting them throughout, from the discovery of the service to its adoption and use. Simplicity and accessibility are at the heart of the offer. Hilo is simply smart.

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Performance tracking and content optimization

Lastly, given its nature and ambitious objectives, the collection of data and intelligence had to be easy for our client to grasp and act upon. An interactive dashboard was developed to allow digital and media teams, and account services to track ongoing performance with the goal of continuously optimizing the experience.

Client

Created in 2019, Hilo is a startup operating within Hydro-Québec. The subsidiary is the first in Quebec to offer a turnkey smart home energy service, with a commercial offer set to launch soon. Hilo attracts customers who want to reduce their energy consumption and bill while helping to lower GHG emissions. A partner of responsible energy usage, Hilo puts Quebecers at the forefront of energy consumption technology and will continue to evolve to meet future needs.