Google just committed to $280 million to SolarCity to finance its solar panel installations. Despite the perception that the brand of “solar” is still being about living “green,” SolarCity needs to understand the “solar” customer for adoption to catch on fully.

Much like electric cars, solar panels are muddied by multiple consumer messages, an undefined view of switching triggers and the answer to how best to align with them. Between the self-reflections of being a “green” environmentally conscience consumer or a thrifty consumer looking to save a dollar, companies like SolarCity need to determine if these aspects really matter, enough that is to make prompt a consumer switch.

I bring this up, in part, because the “green” movement, while important to many consumers, is not always the most important motivator. It, in fact, can be the rational reason for making a purchase when there are other emotional factors involved that are difficult for the consumer to articulate.

Going “green” may work, but we’ve seen so many brands and products fail that have taken that route without understanding why being “green” is emotionally important.

The ability to look at the market a company is in dispassionately becomes much more difficult when you are in it because companies have already bought into the benefits of their product. In effect, they are too passionate about it. Marketing today often confuses the intention of a company with the beliefs of its consumer. The two are often not the same. The inability to separate the two means that your market never grows beyond a niche.

It’s something SolarCity should keep in mind.