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Superbrands case studies: BP

BP has been an international household name for decades. One of the world's largest energy companies, it provides fuels for transport, energy for heat and light, and retail services. It also develops an array of petrochemical products used to create all manner of everyday products.

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These many products and services are delivered to the public through a range of internationally respected brands. Together, they have made BP the global force it is today.

Every day, millions of BP customers buy fuels, lubricants and a range of other items from more than 25,000 petrol stations worldwide. They clearly trust the company's collection of established brands, including ampm, ARCO, Aral, BP, Castrol, Ultimate and Wild Bean Cafe.

The second-largest fuels retailer in Europe as a whole, BP is also the largest in Europe's biggest market, Germany. Its 2,500 German outlets are branded as Aral, with a brand link to the corporate BP brand.

In the US, the company markets through the BP retail brand east of the Rocky Mountains and the ARCO masterbrand to the west. BP is the second largest fuels marketer in North America, and BP Ultimate gasoline leads the premium grade market there.

BP has always been a pioneering brand and is growing strongly in developing markets. The company has partnerships with Petrochina and Sinopec in China and TNK in Russia, and is planning to develop its presence with more retail outlets in the developing world.

Early in 2007, the readers of Business Car magazine voted BP's "targetneutral" initiative Innovation of the Year. The first mainstream UK scheme for neutralising CO2 emissions from cars, targetneutral allows customers to calculate their cars' CO2 emissions, and then to neutralise these emissions by paying a fee -- around £20 for the average driver. This is then used to support projects that reduce an equivalent amount of environmental CO2. BP also makes its own contribution every time a targetneutral member buys BP fuel and swipes their Nectar card.

Other notable recent achievements have come through BP's Aral brand in Germany, which has been named Reader's Digest Most Trusted Brand in fuels for the sixth consecutive year. It also won Best Brand from a leading German car magazine for the second time running. This is a powerful demonstration of consumers' enduring loyalty to the Aral brand. 

The wide choice available at BP's retail sites runs from premium fuels to convenience items, freshly prepared food, cafes and bakeries. In the UK, the company recently completed a 12-month trial that brought Marks & Spencer's Simply Food range onto BP retail forecourts. The results were overwhelmingly positive with 97% of customers rating the combined offer good, very good or excellent.

BP has seen a strong strategic fit between its own brand and Marks & Spencer, and plans to roll the combined offer out over 200 sites. Customers will be able to buy selected items from Mark's & Spencer's range including sandwiches, ready meals, fresh produce, wine, flowers and basic groceries alongside BP's own food service brand, Wild Bean Cafe.

Wild Bean Cafe is BP's youngest brand, offering fresh, high-quality food and coffee on the go. In 2006 Wild Bean Café was given a new look which separates it more clearly from the rest of the store, creating a distinctive cafe environment. Another innovation is BP LPG that has revolutionised the gas bottle market with BP Gas Light, a pioneering new lightweight bottle that was first to market in many European countries.

BP Ultimate was launched as a premium fuel in Russia and South Africa in 2006, reflecting BP's global/local approach to branding. Originally launched in the UK in 2003 after 18 months of extensive research, BP Ultimate is now sold in 15 countries -- confirming both BP's commitment to more environmentally friendly products and its ability to deliver premium quality fuels in diverse markets.

The advanced formulation of BP Ultimate is proven to have significantly greater cleaning power than ordinary fuels. A cleaner engine is a more efficient engine and can mean more miles per tank, greater performance and fewer emissions, which can help make a car kinder to the environment.

Recent developments
At the beginning of 2007, BP opened Helios House in Los Angeles, a unique gas station rooted in sustainability and environmental education. Incorporating a range of environmentally focused innovations, the station is an experiment in exploring ways to make gas stations "greener" and to improve the customer experience.

Helios House aims to help customers care for the environment with small lifestyle tips, which also appear on a new website. The site offers a range of resources to help people "move up the greencurve" by making simple changes in their lives. As well as providing a better experience for today's customers, BP hopes these resources will help everyone create a better environment for tomorrow.

Through Helios House, the company also aims to explore how customers and communities respond to a variety of environmental initiatives within the gas station, such as innovative green design, education, eco-friendly materials and recycling opportunities. The ideas and lessons gathered here will then be shared with BP facilities around the country.

Since 2002 BP's communications strategy has been to give a voice to real people about heir energy concerns. BP responds using simple and straightforward language about how it is tackling those issues. BP recognises that it can't solve these issues alone, but is not sitting on the sidelines -- this is embodied with BP's "it's a start" language.

All BP executions aim to demonstrate how the company thinks and goes beyond petroleum, both through its investments in alternatives, and how its policies and actions break with the conventions of the oil industry of the past.

BP has introduced sophisticated psychographic targeting, giving fresh insight into the lifestyle of the consumer and importantly how they consume media. A complete media programme is then developed to engage the right consumer at the right moment with the right message. As a result BP now invests over twice the industry average in new/digital media.

Brand values
In everything it does, BP aims to be performance driven, innovative, progressive and green.

Being performance driven is about proving BP can be trusted. It aims to set global standards for corporate and financial performance, on everything from the environment to the satisfaction of customers and employees.

BP aims to be innovative in every area of its business. Combining the creativity of its people with cutting-edge technology to deliver "breakthrough solutions" both to business challenges and to the needs of its customers.

Being progressive means ensuring that BP can be relied upon to be open and accessible, looking for new and better ways to do things. Not simply commercially, but in society as a whole, aiming to help communities develop and to give individuals every chance to fulfil their potential.

Lastly, green refers to BP's vision of environmental leadership. The company aims to lead the way in developing solutions that help overcome the trade-off between protecting the environment and providing heat, light and mobility for millions of customers.

These values combine to make up BP's brand theme of "beyond petroleum", describing a company that looks to develop new forms of energy and innovative ways of producing oil and gas so as to create sustainable energy for the future.

Things you didn't know about BP

  • The original BP mark was created as a result of an employee competition in 1920. The winning design came from Mr A R Saunders of the purchasing department.
  • The original BP petrol stations in the UK were branded red.
  • In 1922, Castrol became the first company ever to use the sky for advertising, leaving its name hanging in the air for four minutes.

1909 The Anglo-Persian Oil Company (as BP was first known) is formed.
1940s After World War II, BP's sales, profits, capital expenditure and employment all rise to record levels as Europe is restructured.
1954 The company name becomes The British Petroleum Company Limited.
1965 BP finds the West Sole gas field - the first offshore hydrocarbons to be found in British waters.
1975 BP pumps ashore the first oil from the North Sea's UK sector when it buys the Forties field on stream. This field development is financed by a bank loan of £370 million -- the largest wholly private bank advance ever arranged at the time.
1990s BP merges with US giant Amoco, and acquires ARCO, Burmah Castrol and Veba Oil, turning it into one of the world's largest energy companies.
1997 In response to mounting evidence and concern regarding greenhouse gas emissions and the rising temperatures of the earth, BP becomes the first in its industry to state publicly the need for precautionary action on climate change.
2005 BP Alternative Energy is launched, dedicated to the development and wholesale marketing and trading of low-carbon power.

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