BP and the Gulf

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

6 May 2010

BP and the Gulf. An accident waiting to happen.

If, as we preach everyday, successful brand promises incorporate the beliefs of the very people the brand wishes to influence, what does the recent oil leak in the gulf mean to oil refineries in general and BP specifically?

A brand gets its permissions (which creates its preference) from the customer. The customer and prospect “grant” the permission for the brand to grow, have meaning and to be part of the considered set. Without that acquiescence, the brand falters, loses its preferred status, and relinquishes its permission to exist as important.

As public beliefs change, in the light of this debacle, the brand needs to ask itself, “Will the population change its affinity for a brand (or a technology like offshore drilling) itself?”

“While laudable, I do wonder if any oil company can legitimately claim to be the “green” company.”

These questions beg a fresh look at why a brand promise is so much more than a marketing idea. Brand, when defined properly by the beliefs of those it wishes to influence, is a cultural phenomenon. When you promise, as BP has for years, to be “GREEN,” what is your responsibility beyond creating lovely pastoral commercials showing your oil wells serenely placed amongst a flock of sheep? If you are going to claim this environmentally sensitive space then you must make sure that your operations are up to snuff and that environmental disasters are impossible.

This means that with a promise like BP’s, the best practices of the industry are not nearly good enough.

Now I am not claiming that BP was negligent. That remains to be determined. Certainly, its front office has done all the right hindsight mea culpas, but the position it claimed required thought leadership as well as technology leadership. Otherwise, they would have been better served to be the “drill baby drill” company and not the “green” one. A brand’s operational processes and procedures need to serve its brand promise or it is all a lot of puffery.

While laudable, I do wonder if any oil company can legitimately claim to be the “green” company. I know I would never have recommended it to BP. Seems like an accident waiting to happen.

See more posts in the following related categories: BP BP brand British Petroleum brand


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