Gulf of Mexico – America’s Magical Waterland

The brand challenge facing BP runs deeper than any logo and strapline.  These examples come from a post titled Rebranding the BP logo.

As subversive rebrands they reflect the perceptions of some important stakeholders. No matter how BP would like their brand to be thought of their brand meaning is owned and controlled by others.  These logos shed light on how brands are really built. They are built on performance and experience.  Yes they are creative, they are eye catching and salient and they are grounded in a reality. Until the tragedy of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill BP could make the case that it acted in accordance with the green sunflower eco-friendly promise, and the power of its public relations machine could successfully rebut any counter claims. However no PR department packed to the roof with gurus could  put a positive spin on destroyed livlihoods, managerial gaffes, and ruined eco systems.

How will  BP overcome their brand challenges? How will they ‘reposition’ their brand. Reiss and Trout called this task the ‘battle for your mind’.  How will they persuade the people of Louisiana and Florida to think differently of them? Will the board of BP decide to invest in a new logo and strapline? If you were running BP what would you decide to do?

Positioning and its marketing cousin re-positioning are pieces of marketing jargon.  Part of a lexicon that often generates more heat than light.  Words used to impress.  The words frequently imply a capability to change people’s minds. What is rarely mentioned or explained is that like many marketing concepts positioning and re-positioning have two connotations.  One implies an almost mystical and hypnotic  capability to transform how people think. Imagine if it could do that! (wink)  The other is a strategic management task that makes real changes to products and services; the essence of the value proposition.  When brands are truly ‘re-positioned’ they are tangibly moved away from one status towards  another through direct action on product and service attributes (qualities).

BP is re-branding through decisive management actions. Senior management changes, effective capping of the leak, financial compensation, and changing its working practices. It is on a journey of moving its brand away from the current negative perception that many people have as Black Pest towards something in time more positive. Something actions can do and Sophistry can’t. Unless of course you take sophistry to mean genuine,  profound and educated managerial insight.

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3 Responses to “Gulf of Mexico – America’s Magical Waterland”

  1. Tim Langford Says:

    Hi Paul

    Read your piece with particular interest as I wrote the article Andrew refers to – you can also read it here –

    There is an extraordinary historical parallel with what happened to Standard Oil (now Exxon-Mobil) in the 1940s and how they went about a re-brand…it required a ‘root and branch’ re-think and scorched earth strategy to re-build their damaged reputation.


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