Vox Pop

In the light of BP’s new identity, by Landor Associates, can multinational oil companies use design to convince the public they have sound environmental credentials?

‘For nearly 100 years one oil company has owned a very natural and, therefore, environmental symbol, a scallop shell. But does this mean this oil company has been perceived as having sound environmental credentials for the past century? Design alone won’t convince the public that a multinational company has sound environmental policies, but it can be the most effective and immediate signal of change. In recent years, design has taken on a new role in oil companies’ global environmental advertising campaigns, signalling real change. The contribution is significant. Design can be one of the tools to drive action and behaviour which will eventually build a better understanding of what a company stands for and how it delivers it.’

Stuart Redfern, Creative Director, Enterprise IG

‘Yes – that’s why they do it, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. BP is spending more this year on its new sunshine image than it did last year on solar power. This is a triumph of style over substance – without substance the bubble will burst.’

Rob Gueterbock, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace UK

‘No, but it can help shift perception and signal a change in attitude, if it is supported by real actions. The danger comes when companies (whatever the industry) think that they have just bought a new rug to sweep dirt under.’

Paul Barlow, Creative Director – Graphics, Futurebrand

‘From what I’ve seen of the identity – which in truth is only part of a logo – it looks as if it’s been drawn by a bored teenager on MacSpyrograph 5.5. It’s the implementation that really makes the difference between good and bad impact/ impression. The most inane symbol can become an icon of classic corporate identity with a sufficiently anal approach to application. BP already has green as its corporate livery – does it really need to compound its deceit with a flower? Shell may have a natural object as its symbol, but at least it doesn’t make bogus claims as to promoting nature. Maybe the BP manifestation is some oblique reference to a genetically modified buttercup.’

Sebastian Conran, Director, Conran & Partners

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