Logo surprise

StatoilHydro, the major oil company in Norway, unveiled their new surprising logo today.

statoil2

The new logo of Statoil(Hydro) 

After Statoil merged with the oil and gas division of {en:Norsk Hydro} two years ago, it changed its name to {en:StatoilHydro} and took on a new logo. This was to be only a temporary re-naming, it is now reverting to the old Statoil name and today unveiled a radical new logo. Or at least “radical” when considering it’s an oil and gas company. 🙂 The magenta “star” above is, according to the press release, meant to symbolize Statoil as a guiding star or pathfinder, in the search for oil, gas and other sources of energy.

The old Statoil logo

The old Statoil logo, notice the drop of oil

The logo garnered a lot of press. Some see a windmill or a water turbine in the logo. While Statoil do invest in renewable sources of energy, it is unlikely that the designers had this in mind. BP (British Petroleum), which also brand themselves as an “energy company” rather than oil and gas, has a logo that looks like a flower. But BP and other companies do not play with their logos. We would never see Statoil e.g. spin their logo on a pole to get the windmill association across. That would be sacrilege for any company. (Radical media start-ups excepted but again, this is the petroleum industry folks! 😉 )

I’m however convinced that a large international company like Statoil has had the design company (Scandinavian Design Group) test the logo on people from different cultures. Here I suspect the designers have done a remarkable job at meshing different messages.

The Selbu pattern is still popular

First, what the press release conveniently omits, is that no norwegian is able to see the logo without associating it with the traditional and widespread knitting pattern called the Selbu pattern. This is used extensively on traditional woolen gloves and other garment and associated with winter, skiing and a traditional way of life. A knowing wink to us from a company with the norwegian state as a majority stock holder.

lotus

The lotus flower

bp-logo

The logo of oil/energy company BP

But how do foreigners view “our” company’s new logo? What do you guys out there see in the magenta star? I’m only guessing but I think that people in Asia will make an association with the lotus flower as seen from above. Both the colour and the “petals” seem similar, don’t they? Statoil has been set on establishing themselves as a provider of Liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Asia and would benefit from communicating well with the emerging asian markets. As for exploration, Statoil is today present in Indonesia where it cooperates with {en:Pertamina} on the deepwater blocks Kuma and Karama. It is also involved in the Lufeng field off the coast of China.

If this interpretation of the logo is correct, Scandinavian Design Group has done a (to me) remarkable job mixing two hidden messages into quite a simple star-logo. But while the message sent by the Selbu pattern is clear, what connotations do the lotus give?

Having no asian friends to call, I’m relying on wikipedia which states that both hinduism and buddhism uses the lotus flower as a symbol of the power to create. But foremost, the beautiful lotus flower which rises from the muddy water is a symbol of purity. Now that would fit the brand of a company selling clean-burning natural gas or a company transitioning into renewable resources for that matter. But this might be taking the interpretation too far, even for this “radical” choice of logo 😉

They've got a point about the sky

They’ve got a point about the sky

Update November 09: The guys in Statoil that worked on the logo say it’s a guiding star. Stars symbolize both energy and navigation. The half-detached “petals” apparently indicate that the logo is both a star and a constellation.  The marketing director says that the choice of colour reflects a winter sky in northern latitudes, much like the one to the right. The working vision during the design was ”Crossing energy frontiers” and one have to agree that an explorer trekking across the arctic under a magenta winter sky is a captivating image. In other news, Statoil confirmed the re-branding into an energy company, with CO2 removal as one of their stronger points.

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One Response to Logo surprise

  1. Emil D says:

    Hey!

    So far I haven’t heard anything positive about this logo in the norwegian media. I must admit the only thing I really like about the logo is the colour. I’ll miss the o’l flame.

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