For several months now I’ve had to search and find images of a wide variety of company logos on a daily basis. Naturally, this has had its consequences, ranging from shock to deep respect for whoever the designers were of this or that particular logo. I want to make it very clear that I am no designer, have nothing whatever to do with design, and cannot even draw properly, though when I was 6 I had shown promise, or so they told me. No matter, this is not my field of expertise, so I’m doing this for purely entertainment purposes, being as subjective as possible, for a change. Oh, yes, the logos here will be from two industries only — oil and gas, and mining, so sorry about the lack of variety but it’s not my fault, we can’t choose the dirty industries we’re inexplicably drawn to.
Here are the worst logos I’ve come across so far:
1. BHP Billiton:
This is one of the three biggest miners in the world. I mean, the whole wide world. This is why I’m putting it first, it’s unbelievable that such a huge company can have a logo that looks like, um, you name it, but I’ve gone from baby poo to pools of rusty water, seeing as their main business is iron ore. I was actually very proud when I came up with the rust version. If you look a bit, just a little bit, more carefully, though, it’s obvious that the three… spots, represent a progress of some sort.
I’ve always said any single thing can reveal hidden depths if you’re in the right mood, and this is one demonstration of the fact. I have to admit, though, that this particular depth remains hidden from me (it’s 7.30 am, I did not sleep well and I met Mia Wasikowska in my dream, for some reason). I could speculate that this is the progress from iron ore to steel but I can’t really believe it, unless I speculate further that the designers, or the BHP people, wanted to be very, very mysterious on purpose. Yeah, keeping people guessing can be very attractive. In some cases. In others — not so much. I’ve given up on guessing what BHP wanted to convey and I’ve decided to go with the rust pools. I refuse to dig further to get to the grand idea that was behind this logo. You can keep it to yourselves, geniuses.
Another giant, and an even worse logo. No, I’m sure there are more than enough people that will be fascinated by the huge IN in the middle of the word, by the pictograms, etc. (is there actually an etc. here?) But to me, the S looks like a slug, possibly a victim of an oil spill given the color, the IN is totally out of place and hits the eyes badly, and the pictograms make matters worse. Why not just do it in Chinese and have a Latin alphabet version? Why two in one? Besides, what’s this red almost-oval?
For some reason it reminds me of the Japanese flag and I really don’t think that’s a connection Sinopec wants people to make, do they? Ah, yes, another thing — it doesn’t really take much deconstruction to set the slug aside, then set the IN aside, and be left with the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries. Clever? Seriously? I refuse to accept that any company of Sinopec’s size could hire people for whom this will pass as clever. Not that anyone cares about my refusal, of course, but I have been traumatized — I get goose bumps every time I have to write about Sinopec. Note that I’ve chosen a photo where the logo looks much better than the default image. You want to see it? Please yourselves. Incidentally, if anyone could supply a reasonable explanation for the IN, I’d be eternally grateful. I’m serious.
All right, this one isn’t as ugly as it is extremely ironic. In fact, it’s not ugly at all and the opportunities it gives are, apparently, endless, just type ‘bp’ in Google images. But the irony? Oh, my! If I remember correctly, BP changed their logo to reinforce their new and improved image of a sustainable, green company. You’re already grinning, right? I know I am, especially since the last time I had to use this logo was to blog the news that a Louisiana court found BP grossly negligent in the Deepwater Horizon affair.
Switching off the humor for a moment, I know ‘affair’ is not the right word, ‘catastrophe’ is. But irony is irony, with or without environmental tragedies. On its own, it’s a nice logo, though, all fresh and sort of lemony, sunny, etc. Yep, not one word to suggest what the company actually does. What’s the point in that? Is the purpose of this logo to avert people’s attention from the fact that what BP does is pump dirty old oil out of the ground? is it possible to convince anyone that it actually produces energy from the sun and the wind? Hardly. It’s a company with a long history, after all, and no amount of diversification can beat that, I’d say. Yet the efforts are somehow amusing, the logo is really easy on the eye, no?
Yeah, yeah, that’s not a company and, for me, this makes things even worse. Just look at it! Not only is it in the worst possible shade of blue (I’m partial to blue, there are only a couple of shades I like and another couple I could stand without making a face. Basically, not my favorite color), but the font — is this actually a font? I really don’t know, I just know it’s ugly, truly ugly. It makes me sad when I look at it, very sad and utterly convinced that the world is a cruel place, happiness is an illusion and we’re all doomed. That’s what this logo does to me. I never want to see it again.
PS Someone who does know about design said that it’s actually great, because there’s no way to mistake this logo for anyone else’s but OPEC’s. So? It still looks like four circles, two of them nibbled at, with a stick in the middle.
Every time I lay my eyes on this logo, it puts me in mind of a radio station. I wonder why. Then there’s all the angular letters and squares. Maybe these signify efficiency and a no-nonsense approach to business, which is reasonable enough. Mining is a serious business, there can be no argument. But is there anyone who thinks that it’s actually all fun and games, and needs reminding that it’s not? I doubt that. I also doubt that anyone at Freeport has any sense of humor or a capacity to be be kind to small animals and children. Judging by this logo, of course, not that I have any first-hand experience with the company. The impression I get from all these angles, and from the color palette, of course, is that Freeport is a dark, sinister place, where evil-looking men work day and night to make more money, with no regard for anything but the bottom line. Well, you might say that this is what any large company does, but even if that’s true, no company is crazy enough to advertise it, is it? In short, this logo gives me the wrong impression.
All is not lost, however, so here are five logos that I really, really like:
Look at the beauty of it. Style and simplicity. No, I don’t know what the six jewel-like rhomboids are supposed to mean, maybe a stylized oil drill, but they’re very pretty nevertheless. So is the font. This logo says “We are serious people but we can also appreciate beauty, and, all in all, we are nice people.” Now, I know that’s most probably far from the truth and I’m aware that deep down the Statoil guys are just as bad as those in BP — although I think they are certainly more careful — but to me they come across as much less hypocritical and also possessing an aesthetic sense apparently not very common in the industry.
We make aluminum. We are the biggest in the business and we intend to continue being the biggest in the business for the observable future. Questions?
I sometimes wonder if I like this logo better than Statoil’s, I really do. I mean, you don’t get any simpler than this — just a word, and it’s all in the font. I have to tell you a secret, I often just sit and marvel at Glencore’s logo. For me, it must have taken nothing short of genius to come up with the exact style that would make adding anything else to the company’s logo unnecessary. I don’t think I’m minimalist but, really, anything else here would have meant overdoing it. That doesn’t of course mean that Glasenberg and company are wonderful people, mining majors rarely, if ever, are. But they have a hell of a logo.
4. Anglo American
I have a thing for open-pit mines. I think they are one of the most beautiful creations of mankind. Say what you like about horrible exploitation and fatal accidents, but beauty is not a moral category. So, this logo, of one of the biggest exploiters in the world of mining, is naturally among my favorites. Ironically, Anglo American is looking for a buyer right now and Glencore was tipped to be one of the possible buyers. Thankfully, it wasn’t interested, otherwise I’ve no idea how the combined company’s logo would have looked. It would have been a huge waste.
Look at this lovely logo and tell me it’s ugly. It looks like a butterfly, right? A sweet, carefree, Australian butterfly. Well, since it’s Australian it may well be poisonous but who cares if it’s so lovely? All right, I admit I’m partial to anything Australian but that has nothing to do with logos, look at BHP. I have to admit it was hard to find a second oil company with a nice logo. Yeah, yeah, Shell is a classic but it’s a bit boring. The rest of them are very boring, at least for me.
Well, this subjectivity thing is very refreshing, who knew?