Brand as a beacon of change

The emotionally resonant positioning Beyond petroleum signalled a new direction and paved the way for a decade of increasing sales.




Energy & utilities

Branded environments
Identity & design
Brand architecture

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 petroleum.

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 energy company.

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 business.

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 projects.

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. 



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