BP: Crowdsourced Rebranding as Crisis Response
Friday, May 7, 2010
When BP rebranded itself a few years back, it did so in a way that made the redefinition of its initials an overt gesture: "British Petroleum" would now stand for "Beyond Petroleum." In other words, we were asked and empowered to reimagine what "BP" means.
This semantic structure and dynamic definition has stuck, even as the brand's image and value collapses under the weight of the Deepwater Horizon crisis. Savvy readers of corporate identities had long seen "Beyond Petroleum" as problematic and disingenuous, and now see it as purely toxic. Others, including me, have seen the crisis itself as the new identity for BP, a monogram that might describe their response as "beyond pitiful."
Spoofs of motivational posters are buzzing about today, with the phrase: "BP: We're Bringing Oil to American Shores." Both crisis and joking aside for a moment: what happens when an unintentional crowdsourced rebranding gains energy and spreads like an oil slick? Where do crisis management and brand management intersect? And what other tags or slogans might our smart readers suggest for the company that asked us to reimagine what "BP" stands for?