The metaphysical quality that gives the BP Helios visual identity mark its sway

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This thesis analyses the reasons why BP’s visual identity mark (VIM), known as the Helios, was immediately accepted into the global marketplace following its launch in 2000. At the end of the millennium the merger between BP (UK) and Amoco (US) gave BP the opportunity to reposition itself in the petroleum category. The work is constructed by explicating the objectives of BP’s rebranding, through discussions with the Helios’s design team leader, Courtney Reeser (from brand strategists, Landor Associates), addressing both client’s and designer’s criteria through analysing the aesthetic and branding strategies aimed at the internal and external audiences (viewers/users). BP undertook a new direction towards environmental consciousness and the resulting Helios reinforced the new ‘Green’ ideology of BP with an authentic declaration for change. In parallel with the above, another aspect of this thesis examines the connections between elemental nature-inspired archetypal symbols and contemporary VIMs, in particular the BP Helios, to establish a continuity of intent, application, and influence upon the viewer/user and further advances the understanding for the BP Helios’s success. Engaging areas of expertise not traditionally utilized within visual communication, such as sociology, archaeology, theology, and folklore assist in building an appreciation of the continuity and effectiveness of the use of elemental nature-inspired archetypal symbols within a contemporary context is gained. The Helios possesses similar visual qualities to the Solar Cross, an elemental nature-inspired archetypal symbol. Within these archetypal symbols lies a metaphysical quality Jung referred to as numinosity. This metaphysical quality within a symbol enables that symbol (VIM) to exercise influence over the individual’s and the group’s sense of identity and can act as a galvanizing and motivating force. The BP Helios was rapidly and readily accepted into the global market indicating that the relationship between an elemental nature-inspired archetypal symbol and the VIM generated an immediate a sense of trust and reassurance within the viewer/user. This thesis contributes to the discourse on how VIMs exerts influence over the viewer/user no matter what level of sophistication their society has attained. It aims to offer visual communicators and graphic designers in particular, a more complete understanding of the BP Helios.
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