Archive for May, 2010

BP’s brand will help clean up its mess

by Laura Pearlstein
Greenpeace activists hoist a flag after climbing on to a balcony at BP headquarters in London.

Greenpeace activists hoist a flag after climbing on to a balcony at BP headquarters in London.

Full disclosure here: I’m a journalist’s daughter. Actually, I’m a columnist’s daughter, so there goes the impartiality. And yes, this blog post comes straight on the heels of some paternal prose. But I can’t help but think that it’s about time Coley Porter Bell weighed in on the BP brand in the face of the Deepwater disaster.

BP’s rebrand ten years ago has been held up as one of our industry’s biggest success stories: a tired, uninspiring oil company making the leap into the shiny future of renewable energy, going ‘beyond petroleum’. Employees embraced the new ethos, the bottom line flourished, and the company’s reputation as a leader in corporate sustainability efforts was cemented in the public consciousness. BP was sitting pretty.

And then in April, disaster struck.

To be clear: this is a disaster, no doubt about it. The victims of the oil rig explosion are not only the eleven people who lost their lives, but their families, the population of the Gulf Coast, and countless species of animals in the area. We have no idea how the situation will play out, or how much damage will ultimately be done. It’s scary stuff – the sort of fiasco that can relegate a company to the black hole of contempt in people’s minds. And while the BP brand will take a hit, ultimately I believe it will make it through. There are two reasons for that.

First, BP’s longstanding and considerable investment in brand-building will have helped to futureproof them against public relations disasters just like this one. Compared to energy companies with less inspiring brands (ahem, Shell and Exxon), BP seems like the good guy. Instinctively, we tend to believe they’ll right this wrong, and continue on their virtuous path. That’s what it means to have captured the hearts and minds of consumers.

Second, BP has done more than simply building a brand, they’ve built a culture. The open, honest, optimism that’s core to their brand has come through in their response to the oil spill. Sure, there were some hiccups at the start, but ultimately, they’ve raised their game. BP leadership is truly living their brand, reinforcing their positioning with every press conference, every shared internal document, every apology. The BP brand, it seems, is more than just a cheery logo.

We’ll have to wait and see how this all nets out, but this blogger’s money is on a triumphant BP brand re-emerging. Eventually.

We just love the new Routemaster

by Alex Benady

The new London bus

The new London bus


Ask three designers a question and you’ll get four opinions, one sulk and a hissy fit.  So it’s a sign of just how good it is that the design for London Transport’s new bus has drawn nearly unanimous rave reviews from the massed aesthetes at Coley Porter Bell.


The Wrightbus styled by Thomas Heatherwick is the successor to the much loved design classic, the Routemaster, and a replacement for the much hated bendy bus. In design terms at least, it has brilliantly struck a balance between making the bus modern and relevant to contemporary needs on the one hand, while on the other retaining enough of the character of the original Routemaster to make it recogniseably the same family.


As a company that makes a living from refreshing brands we know just how hard that is.


One of our planners summed up the general feeling when he said: “I love it for its retro chic. It takes what is great about London and embodies it in a bus – tradition mixed with progress. So much better than those bender buses.”


He’s right. How typically, quintessentially English to want progress liberally seasoned with references to the past. Think Tudorbethan semis, Roberts radios and anything by Kath Kidston.


People love the curved sweep of the back. People love the subtle rounding at the front and the slightly asymmetric line of the front window which picks up on the hood of the original Routemaster. People love the way that glass is used to emphasis key features like the stairs. And most of all people love the open platform at the back of the bus, which will allow them to hop-on and hop-off. Just like they did in the old days before health and safety went mad.

That’s not to say everyone loves it uncritically. There is a definite school of thought which says that the retro styling is not integral to its function which means that the resemblances to the original Routemaster are just cosmetic.

Its only when you start examining functionality that the wheels start to come off Heatherwick’s design. Like other double deckers currently on service it carries 87 people. But according one driver the much maligned bendy bus can easily carry 150 people. “It’s supposed to be 135 but at rush hour you can just keep on squeezing them on,” he said.

So London Transport’ll need two new buses for every bendy bus it replaces. What’s more because every new bus will need a conductor of some sort to police the open platform, one driver will need to be replaced by two drivers and two conductors.

The conflict between heart and pocket, between beauty and lucre is also a familiar issue at Coley Porter Bell. Let us just hope that in this case, beauty wins.


CPB gives Martinez bar a Chivas revamp for Cannes

by Alex Benady

Coley Porter Bell has given the bar of the exclusive Martinez Hotel in Cannes, a Chivas Regal-branded make over for this year’s film and design festivals.

The premium whisky brand has signed a two year sponsorship deal with the £5,000 a night hotel to promote its luxury credentials.

It has revamped the bar which is frequented by many of the most famous film stars and celebrities in the world, with Chivas Regal brand icons. The redesign employs elements from the ‘Brand World’ that CPB and Chivas have developed. (‘Brand World’ is part of an ongoing drive to ensure the Chivas brand’s positioning is brought to life visually and consistently throughout the world).

CPB has created muted but glamorous branding and wall coverings in black on black using elements of the Chivas brand. The company also enhanced the lighting in the bar using amber coloured accent lights around the bar itself, the bar shelving and the walls of the bar.

In addition the product will be displayed as a focal point behind the bar and plinths either side of the bar will display Chivas Regal 25 and the limited edition bottle designed by Christian Lacroix. Chivas images are displayed on the walls of the bar in luxurious gold frames.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Chivas to build and extend its glamorous reputation in such exclusive surroundings”, said Ana Claudia Saba, global senior brand manager at Chivas Brothers.

“Although in many ways it was a dream brief for CPB, it was a challenging design problem requiring the agency to strike a delicate balance between the need for branding and discrete luxury”, said Simon Adamson design director at Coley Porter Bell who also acts as
global creative director at Chivas Brothers. “The brand’s positioning is cool, sophisticated and luxurious. We had to capture this spirit and ensure that it feels part of the glitterati life style.”

May 5 Beautiful Things

by Stephen Bell

At Coley Porter Bell, we believe in making brands beautiful. Beautiful brands stand out from the crowd, inspire, and leave a lasting impression. But none of this would be achievable if it wasn’t for the everyday beauty that surrounds us and inspires our creativity.

We regularly share ‘5 beautiful things’ which have inspired us, and we hope they will do the same for you.

So here is our May edition…

If you would like to see even more of the beautiful things that inspire us then please visit our beautiful blog:


Stephen Bell, Creative Director, Coley Porter Bell

a beautiful move: new coley porter bell london office

Coley Porter Bell UK has moved offices! Now, while the prospect of moving a business can be quite daunting, it is also a chance to refresh, renew and, as we are a brand design agency, a great creative opportunity to bring our brand to life …in 3D.

“We wanted our new space to be a reflection of who we are and what we do. We came up with a list of words that would form an essential part of the brief for both ourselves and our chosen architects. These were human touch, crafted and clever detail, colourful surprises, depth and realness – a place that works, and my favourite… a bit of glamour. We wanted a space that would encourage creativity both for our clients and for ourselves.” – Stephen Bell, CPB Creative Director

We are looking forward to welcoming you here and to having many creative and productive times ahead of us. Our new address is Coley Porter Bell, 121-141 Westbourne Terrace, London W2 6JR.



by Sarah Cameron

I’ve never been a fan of PMT.

I can also, without doubt, say my family and friends share this opinion, when month after month it tantrums its way around the kitchen, into the biscuit tin and sulks its way into a dark corner of the house, having slammed all doors in its path.

So it’s a little shocking that I find myself wanting to write about it now – really excited and preparing to be pretty gushing (sorry) over a subject I’d otherwise rather not mention.

This radical change in me has been brought about by discovering an Aussie brand called Moxie. Whilst browsing my parents local Waitrose (a better sort of Waitrose apparently), shopping for the necessities in life, I came across this fab looking brand, a beautiful vision amongst all those other horrendous sanitary products with purple and teal wings etc etc.

I’m not embarrassed to say I squealed (a bit) at the shelf when I realized for the same sum of money I could buy my tampons in a pretty little tin which would match my handbag. Well, I do work in design. Never before has a san pro brand ever moved me to check them out on the internet, so I was equally delighted to find their website also lives up to their philosophy of ‘living beautifully’. I’m actually looking forward the next one (mood swings depending).

This blog is about all the things that inspire us as we make brands beautiful: insights and ideas, points of view, fabulous work, nascent trends - all the things that excite us and help us to see new possibilities for the brands we work on. So please enjoy, add your comments, forward the link, and come back and see us. We’ll be posting regularly.