Brand as a beacon of change
A series of mergers and acquisitions made BP the third largest
oil company in the world. CEO Lord John Browne seized the
opportunity to break the industry mold and look past the balance
sheet. In 1997, he publicly committed to reduce BP’s greenhouse gas
emissions by 10 percent before 2010. This led to investments in
solar power and alternative energy and partnering with automakers
to improve engine efficiency. To broadcast the new face of BP to
the world, Browne also needed a new brand.
Beyond petroleum became a rallying cry for BP’s new
vision and strategy. Together with the brand values of innovation,
performance, progressiveness, and respect for the environment, the
concept created a platform for internal initiatives and external
campaigns—all aimed at delivering the promise of Beyond
Landor created the Helios identity to capture BP’s aspirations.
A stylized sunflower symbolizes the sun’s energy, while the color
green reflects the brand’s environmental sensitivity. With this
simple shift in identity, BP staked its claim as a new breed of
An internal launch raised excitement about the new brand and its
possibilities. Landor trained more than 1,400 brand champions in 19
countries around the promise of Beyond petroleum. These
champions then spread the word among remaining staff with the aid
of websites, brand films, newsletters, toolkits, and more. Annual
Helios Awards honored employees whose on-brand actions had an
impact on the company or the wider community—reinforcing BP’s
commitment to Beyond petroleum as a way of doing
We redesigned BP’s physical environments right down to the
plants—the minute you stepped in the door, the brand story began.
Aloe plants, the most efficient plant producers of oxygen, became
fixtures in every office. For employees, they were inspiring. For
visitors, they were conversation starters.
BP began to invest in alternative energy partnerships and
develop cleaner solutions. Between 2003 and 2009, Landor was there
every step of the way to help make Beyond petroleum a
reality. We partnered with BP on the development of subbrands such
as BP Ultimate high-efficiency fuels, BP Alternative Energy, and A+
for Energy, which provides grants to teachers for energy education
Results were stellar. In 2010, BP enjoyed a 23 percent increase
in global retail sales, a $7 billion increase in brand assets, an
overall sales increase of 5 to 10 percent above industry average,
and recognition as one of the world’s most admired companies.
However, circumstances changed. In April 2010, BP’s Deepwater
Horizon drilling rig exploded, causing an oil spill in the Gulf of
Mexico. BP was forced to divest many of its alternative energy
ventures to compensate victims of the accident, and took action in
2011 to redefine its brand. Landor helped create a new Brand
Driver, Providing energy in better ways, which signaled a
shift back to its core business and a renewed emphasis on
operational safety. BP’s new brand values included safety, respect,
excellence, and courage.
The 2012 London Olympics was the perfect opportunity to show the
world that BP was concerned about the safety and respect of the
community. By launching a campaign to sponsor athletes, support the
Olympic infrastructure, and offset spectators’ travel emissions, BP
demonstrated it was working to make things right.
Although the Deepwater Horizon disaster caused dramatic drops in
BP’s brand strength, its resilient brand foundation and willingness
to respond—and respond quickly—enabled the brand to begin a
recovery. Just two years after the accident, BP had regained over
half of the esteem it had lost.