Greenpeace Holds BP Logo Design Contest


Greenpeace apparently knows the power of a logo, and they are willing to use it. To showcase their opinion of British Petroleum’s handling of the Gulf oil crisis, they sponsored a logo design contest encouraging members to modify the BP logo to represent the company’s new public image.

The official logo for British Petroleum was redesigned several years ago to portray the company’s changing focus from petroleum based products to cleaner, greener forms of energy. The result was a logo that appeared to be a sun, which connotes growth while also tying into the up and coming field of solar energy. Yellow is an obvious choice for sunshine, while green was added to tie into the growing popular ‘green’ movement. The sun image also resembles a flower in full bloom, another symbol of growth and ecology. The company initials were written in rounded lower case letters that gave a sense of friendliness and informality. While many consider this “green washing”, it obviously has been successful in changing the way the public views this energy company… until recently.

The modified BP logo that won the UK Greenpeace contest featured the well known BP logo, but with a twist. In front of the sun/flower is the black image of a bird shaking oil from its wings. Although it is impossible to tell with only a silhouette, the bird appears to be standing in an ocean of oil. This, to UK Greenpeace and its supporters, represents the true damage done by the oil leak: animals struggling to survive in a damaged ecosystem. The impression given by this logo is not so much a blooming flower or a shining sun, but a tragic sunset.

Greenpeace cannot legally use BP’s logo design—or any modification of it—to make money, but they are allowing website users to print their own stickers or use the image as a button on Facebook and other social networking sites. Even this could present legal problems for the nonprofit organization, although it is unlikely that BP will risk an already tarnished reputation to punish their critics. How damaging can this logo design be for BP, a company already in the middle of the world’s greatest public relations nightmare? It depends on the popularity of the modified logo. This image is certainly powerful enough to taint the BP logo for an entire generation if enough people view it.

It’s important to note that this logo design is not in any way endorsed by BP. It is merely a protest of what UK Greenpeace perceives as a lack of concern for the environment. It merely goes to show the power of logo design: to portray emotions and opinions, even strong and negative ones. In this case, we see a positive image that is changed to give a negative and even repulsive feeling to viewers. If you are interested in a logo that gives customers the feelings and impressions that you want to inspire, talk to a logo designer today.