Wednesday, May 5, 2010

BP's pretty green-fringed sunflower logo

Look at the difference here between the logo I remember from my youth and the one British Petroleum came up with as part of a re-branding campaign in the 90s after merging with Amoco.

I frankly prefer the old-school quality of the earlier design -- the shield evokes "motoring" with its interstate-system-like badge.  It doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is:  the logo of a company that sells you gas for your car.  The new logo, however, evokes something very different.  Is it a flower (bio-fuel)?  Is it a pinwheel (wind power)?  Is it the sun (solar energy)?  Is it the fission on an atom (nuclear power)?  In fact, you'd be forgiven to think selling gas was a sideline with this company, while it spends the rest of its time developing clean-fuel sources and technologies.

I don't like to think of myself as too gullible or naive, but I will gladly -- in the noble pursuit of knowledge! -- fall on my sword by admitting that I totally bought it.  Granted, I'm a sucker for a nicely-designed anything, including logos...and this is a damn good one.  And, in their defense, they did stick with the same color palette, so it's not like they didn't maintain some continuity.  But.

The new buzz-word to describe this particular kind of sales job that promotes an idea of a company as something that doesn't quite match up with its reality is:  greenwashing.  Foreign Policy has a great article on the greenwashing in BP's modern marketing campaign here.  Check it out.