As Paul Rand said “A trademark is created by a designer but made by a corporation.”
BP finds itself being put to this test in a way most other companies thankfully never have, far more than even Exxon was.
And their logo has been beamed, downloaded and published alongside disastrous images of oil slicks and dead bird life all over the globe for the past few months, not to mention twittered and blogged. So now as the cleanup continues so too does the PR cleanup.
This negative PR has undone much that their brand stands for. The hard pushed image of an oil company that strives to be environmentally responsible by moving away from just fossil fuels to renewable clean energy resources such as solar, (as the company puts it ‘beyond petroleum’) has certainly been tarnished.
But to their credit BP appears to be doing everything it can to resolve the disaster and put nature back to its correct state. Take a look at their website, You Tube and follow them on Twitter, Facebook etc and you can see exactly what they are doing. BP appears to be living up to their brand values. (Of course the cynic in me says they have no other choice).
When this logo was launched in 2000 after the merger of BP with Amoco in 1998, I thought it to be a fantastic brand interpretation of the way the company was heading.
The BP brand is summed up by the phrases ‘better people, better products, big picture, beyond petroleum’, perhaps ‘big problem’ is more apt. (Yes that nasty word ‘petroleum’ has been cleverly removed from the consciousness of the BP consumer)
The brand mark is a ‘Helios’ – named after the Greek god of the sun, to suggest heat, light and nature, so right for a petroleum company wanting to look environmentally conscious and responsible.
The design was a dramatic break with traditional energy brands. ‘It is unlike any other energy identity, and symbolises a number of things – from the living, organic form of a sunflower to the greatest source of energy…the sun itself’.
Unfortunately for BP, the bright warm yellow of the sun and that wonderful colour of green have been tainted by sludge brown.
So will the brand survive? If I had written this blog during the height of the crisis when the Gulf, and all concerned along with BP were being ‘bashed’ (environmentally, financially or publicly) I would have responded with an easy flat out no in the long term. That is to say in the short term yes, but with a change to the brand after the dust has settled in a couple of years.
But waiting until the dust has settled more and being able to gauge how BP have/are handling it, I will say yes it will survive.
Even though BP is the creator of the largest pollution disaster in US history, BP is living up to the image and culture of their brand by doing everything they can to fix the Gulf environment and communities.
At the end of the day the most important thing that is remembered when you make a mistake is not the mistake, but how you handle the outcome!