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Advice for BP: Change Your Name Back to Amoco


Now Mr. Hayward, I don't want you thinking about this right now. You've got way too many other things to focus on, and this should take a lower priority. But let's say, in a year or two, if BP has not gone under, and the oil spill has been mostly cleaned up, and wildlife, fishing, and life in general begins to get back to some sense of order in the Gulf, your board should seriously consider a big change.

Change your name.

Since this tragedy started, designers and non-designers have been donating their best ideas and concepts to various blogs and Web sites to help rebrand BP as they think you should be represented now. I must say, it's not pretty. Greenpeace has been running a contest. Some have even been posted here on FC. I thought it might be nice to consider, just for a moment, what really needs to happen on the other side of this mess, so we as a global society never forget.

Some things definitely need to go. The name BP itself, for instance. BP will be associated with the prospect of criminal charges and thousands of civil law suits. I'm not sure anyone will ever again be able to look at those initials and not think Big Problems. So drop them. Change your primary color. You've tainted the color green now so it is meaningless. For some time design experts (and environmentalists) have been asking green clients and consumers to consider alternatives for this overused color. I suggest blue. A sophisticated hue. One that eludes to a higher order. Blue is the new green. Blue is sincere. Blue is honest. Blue is calming. Blue is American. Blue is the Gulf (or will be again someday). And for this, we will never forget.

I am assuming, sir, we are all learning some hard and valuable lessons from this disaster. I know the people of the Gulf are. I think the government is. I imagine your stockholders have. We need to spend the required money not just to promote the idea of a cleaner existence, but to actually walk the talk and live a cleaner existence. Spend the money on new technology. Spend the money on better safety measures. Spend the money that you claimed to have already spent on making sure the dead battery on the dead man's switch isn't dead. You get the point. Be better. Be honest. Be sincere. And what better way to demonstrate your changed ways than to reposition your brand with a new name a revitalized brand. For that, look in your closet.

So here's an idea that just might work. Bring back the Amoco name. You purchased the brand some years ago, and ultimately shuttered it. It may be ready for a new look and a comeback. Perhaps this change could start an entire design thinking process that really looks at what a new global energy company would/should look like. And especially how it would/should act. Who knows where that kind of thinking might take us. Somewhere positive, I hope.

Jamey Boiter's Brand Innovatr blog
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Jamey Boiter is a nationally recognized brand strategist and practitioner. As BOLTgroup's brand principal, he oversees all brand innovation and graphic design teams. He has received numerous awards, ADDYs, and citations for his work in brand development, packaging, and corporate identity, including award-winning projects for AirDye, Lowe's, IZOD, Nat Nast, G.H. Bass, Marc Ecko, and Forté Cashmere. Jamey has been involved in strategic brand development and design management programs with world-class brands such as Kobalt Tools, Ryobi, Coca-Cola, Kraft, IZOD, and Phillips-Van Heusen, and has been a featured speaker at national conferences and college campuses on the subject of brand strategy, innovation and development.