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Black is the new Green

Greenpeace calling for the relaunch of the BP (British Petroleum) logo caused a critical engagement with the oil company on one hand and a reflection with current brand communication on the other hand.
Black is the new Green

BP-Logo redesign – black is the new green

Looking for a prime example of failed crisis management one quickly thinks of BP. Not only with combating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico where they experienced incredible difficulty in handling the crisis but also in handling the communications. BP has given the world a new best example for case study in crisis management and communications.

Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, was not prepared. He had neither a clear communication strategy, nor the slightest feeling for those who interpreted his message (communication is the perception of facts, people make their opinions and make decisions based on the interpretation of facts and messages.)

It was remarkable to see how BPs communication seemed utterly clueless as if they had no idea what effect the messages they were sending out were creating – an outrage around the world. A google search for 'BP and oil spill' would show results from any website, BPs own message would be somewhere buried on page 10 of  the search results. This illustrates that we don't live anymore in a time of 'push communication', people get information they choose to get, and people also have the power of the 'barrel of ink', in their new power of publishing. From the information user perspective, the trend is pull communication and in many ways it is user defined and sometimes narrowly scoped to the individuals perspective communications choices.


Greenpeace has taken this a step further and called for a BP logo re-design: in a short time, more than a thousand logos were submitted and are published on Flickr. Greenpeace thinks the green sun representing British Petroleum is not exactly fitting and called for a logo relaunch:

"BP claim that they are 'beyond petroleum'. But this is a company that is up to its neck in the dirtiest oil going - poised to invest in the Canadian tar sands, and causing environmental catastrophe through deep water drilling."

"Their nice green logo doesn't really seem to fit them too well, so we ran a competition to find a logo that we could use to rebrand BP."

Some logos are strikingly well done, demonstrating how powerful a visual communication can convey a message.

The Greenpeace campaign BP's "Beyond Petroleum" message is illustrated in many forms such as: "Big Problem" "Be Pissed", "Big Pollution", "Broken Promises", "Bribing Politicians", "Bye Planet" and other claims. Green became black. Oil dripping from some logos; skulls, and blackened pelicans show the impact a small logo/illustration can have. Resembling Edvard Munch's "Der Schrei" delivers a strong message. The "drill baby drill" logo mocks Sarah Palin's slogan while she was campaigning for vice president and leading crowds in cheer-leading sessions of  "drill - baby - drill" to show her support for oil drilling.

See all the entries on Flickr


BP-Logos-1 BP-Logos-2 BP-Logos-3

BP-Logos-6 BP-Logos-7




Article by Harito Reisman, July 31, 2010

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