Canadian Oil Sands Go Leafy… But Not Green

By Mash Bonigala

We are seeing energy brands all over the UK change to friendlier, less technical logo designs. This probably an attempt to make dirty industries seem cleaner. We saw this with British Petroleum a few years ago and the fad just seems to have spread. Now the trend has expanded to Canada, where Canadian Oil Sands has adopted a new, friendlier logo to help their energy company appeal to the masses.

The old logo design featured the initials of the company nestled together, with the C bearing cog-like grooves. The S has a yellow drop, and the O seems to be AWOL. The name of the business is written below in rounded, thin black letters that feel approachable and friendly.

It is easy to come up with areas of improvement for this logo. For one, the red and yellow don’t really seem relevant to the industry or this company in particular. The yellow droplet might be meant to represent oil, but to most of us it represents something else. Another key flaw is the overly technical design. Sure, there was a time when people in the UK and elsewhere wanted to feel that energy companies were technical leaders. Now, however, they seem more threatening because of increased emphasis on ecology and well-publicised disasters through the world.

The new logo has the good old maple leaf, an image that is familiar and friendly to Canadians, formed from droplets of different sizes. You can see the same red as seen in the former logo, but it is now made relevant because it is the same red of the Canadian flag. The new font is similarly rounded and friendly, but even less business-like due to the even more round letters and the use of a cool, calming grey. The industrial feeling has been scrapped altogether.

One definite benefit of the new logo is that it will be effective in animations used on television and the internet. This logo can be used in a variety of media with huge success, which is important in modern branding and marketing. It seems a little bland, but it is relevant and memorable; who could ask for more? Most importantly, this logo is more modern and generally an improvement over the former design.

Another key important factor is that the logo design uses a leaf shape, which is not just the symbol of Canada but a symbol of plants and general health as well. The oil sands industry has come under significant fire lately for being polluting and wasteful. This leaf is an attempt to create a friendlier image in the minds of customers. While some might see the use of a leaf as disingenuous and cry ‘greenwashing’, it is nonetheless a move away from a very negative public image. We wonder why the company did not change its name as well; perhaps there is some brand equity that they wanted to maintain.

Sometimes rebranding is necessary because of a change in public perception. This is certainly the case for Canadian Oil Sands. We think that this is a good move and that it will help to improve their standing in the minds of the Canadian public.