“Sign Language” is Tony Spaeth’s eleventh annual report on noteworthy corporate identity programs. Programs are chosen for their strategic interest and creative excellence, but more importantly as lessons in leadership.
Reprinted with permission of ACROSS THE BOARD The Conference Board magazineMarch / April 2001
Tony Spaeth is an independent identity consultant. He specializes in corporate positioning, diagnosis of corporate and brand identity needs, clarification of strategic vision through identity, and nomenclature systems and name development. Prior to establishing his own practice, Spaeth was a consulting principal of the identity firm Anspach Grossman Portugal (now EnterpriseIG) and directed its naming activities. He is a graduate of Princeton and received his Masters in Business Administration from Harvard. Tony teams with graphic designers and agencies to provide total identity services. Recent clients include Sony Corporation, State Street, Dow Jones, Flowserve Corporation with Jack Summerford, and Orbital Sciences, Footstar and Celera Genomics with Nat Connacher.This “2000” article, as well as “1999,” “1998,” “1997”and “1995/1996,” can be viewed or downloaded at www.identityworks.com.
The best of last year’s new logos spoke volumes about corporate leaders.
By Tony Spaeth
losing out the 20th century, we’ve picked 14 new corporate brands worth noting for their creative excellence and strategic interest. Some reflect areconfiguration of the corporation— a merger, a spin-out, a split (like the Andersens), or just a rearrangement of parts (MCI Worldcom)— while others are straightforward, managementinitiated rebrandings that reposition and renew the corporate brand. All, however, reveal a great deal about the presence and effectiveness of corporate leadership in shaping the corporate brand.
“The Amoco is silent.”Indeed, shareholders are expected to vote “Amoco” out of the company’s name at April’s annual meeting. Early on, group chief executive John Browne
he historic (largest-ever) merger of British Petroleum and Amoco (formerly Standard Oil Indiana) took effect Dec. 31, TONY SPAETH, a Rye, N.Y., corpo- 1998, creating “BP Amoco.” But rate brand consultant, reports you won’t find a BP Amoco here each yearon noteworthy logo; as some American identity programs. Additional employees joked at the time, reviews and reflections can be
seen at www.identityworks.com.
decided that perpetuating two names would be a poor foundation for a global power brand. Another goal would be to lose the “P” heritage, as in Petroleum. Worldwide branding firm Landor
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Associates was retained to reposition this giant firm and to rebrand its thousands of retail locations. A strategy so bold deserved an exciting execution and got it in the August brand launch. BP’s distinctive green-yellow colors survived and were transformed into a flowery burst of sun and earth and energy. It’s a brilliant platform for promises oflower emissions, solar power, and the tagline “Beyond Petroleum.” t the end of 1999, Exxon acquired Mobil to set the newer “largest-ever industrial merger” record, upstaging BP Amoco. (In heritage terms, that’s Standard Oil of New Jersey buying Standard Oil of New York.) CEO Lee Raymond
chose the alternative branding strategy: combining the two names in a merely corporate brand whileretaining two independent retail identities (plus Esso), as if to say, “Aren’t two global powerbrands better than one?” Well, yes, for a while, anyway, but the product is an invisible commodity. Ultimately, economics favor integration, and a “Who’s kidding who?” attitude prevails. A corporate-only change like this is a lot less costly, and faster, than retail redesign. The downside: ExxonMobil...