How to rebrand an energy company: 2 case studies to guide you

How to rebrand an energy company: 2 case studies to guide you


Patrick Heath

Rebranding energy companies, whether they are oil and gas (e.g. upstream/midstream/downstream) or utilities, presents a host of legal, regulatory, and logistical challenges to overcome. But in these highly decentralized organizations — where concepts like brand identity are not part of the daily lexicon — one of the most significant obstacles is securing the operational support you’ll need to roll out your new brand everywhere it must appear.

The truth is rebranding simply isn’t a top priority for team members at most energy companies. And that’s often understandable. Some may have experienced multiple ownership transitions so they don’t feel a strong attachment to the overarching brand.

But the fact remains: there are requirements you’ll need to meet. No one can implement a rebrand alone. You’ll need a partner at your side to help you check every regulatory box and keep your project on track.

BrandActive has helped a number of energy companies implement rebrands across far-reaching touchpoints and locations. These two case studies provide a glimpse into what it will take to complete a successful rebrand of your own.

How a large oil and gas company rolled out a consistent rebrand across many miles and 1,000+ locations

When  Enbridge acquired Spectra Energy and became North America’s largest pipeline and infrastructure company, the company engaged BrandActive to ensure they didn’t miss a single detail. Our primary focus was on streamlining the process of converting their signs and fleet vehicles.

Signage and pipeline markers

Converting signage is a significant part of any rebrand implementation plan. But for an oil and gas company like Enbridge, transitioning the building and operational signs at each location was just the beginning. We also had to track down right-of-way signage and pipeline markers across the entirety of the pipeline’s cross-border route. This involved trekking into remote locations to take a complete inventory of every sign — and then replacing them.

To achieve regulatory compliance and brand consistency while also reducing costs, we:

  • Equipped surveyors and employees with technology to track the location, size, and other specifications of every sign (along the way, we found old signs from seven previous owners and updated them, too!) using high-quality decals to reduce costs
  • Developed a brand book to ensure a consistent look and feel for the 250 signs that were fully replaced
  • Entered a competitive bidding process to place bulk orders and hire qualified vendors at a reduced cost
  • Simplified the signage at facilities and locations to streamline costs and speed up the conversion process

Through our efforts, Enbridge reached their goal of converting their signs within an aggressive timeline of four months and did so while staying well under budget.

10 steps in a signage rebranding process

Before embarking on rebranding your signage, you will need to consider a multitude of factors. Learn the 10 steps in a signage rebranding process.

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Fleet vehicles

Enbridge inherited more than 800 inconsistently branded fleet vehicles when they acquired Spectra Energy. To transition them effectively, BrandActive:

  • Took inventory of the various vehicle types and locations
  • Created a standard branded decal to use on all vehicles
  • Engaged in a competitive bidding process with installation vendors to reduce the cost of converting the assets

On their own, Enbridge was unsure how to make this project happen. But by working together, we completed the entire conversion process within eight weeks, coming in at 67% under budget.

Unique considerations of rebranding an oil and gas company

Upstream and midstream oil and gas companies often grow through acquisition and it’s common for ownership to change hands frequently. Furthermore, to mitigate risk and protect the corporation’s brand value, each pipeline, drilling site, or plant typically maintains its own legal identity and functions as a distinct business unit.

This decentralized structure — coupled with the fact that each entity might span vast geographical territory — makes converting physical branded assets a complex challenge. There are also many regulations that require a consistent brand experience. These regulations might require you to provide your corporation’s name, the associated legal entity, and any relevant contact information on every sign, marker, and fleet vehicle.

Safety is another important consideration. You may not have access to every part of each plant or worksite. Instead, you might need to rely on union reps or other allies to help you implement your rebrand safely in situations like this.

Again, rebranding an oil and gas company is incredibly complex. Partnering with an implementation partner is key to carrying out an efficient plan that keeps you in compliance.

If you don’t have the internal support necessary to implement your rebrand across a multitude of decentralized locations, it’s wise to seek outside help.

Six utility companies unite under a common visual identity to implement a budget-conscious rebrand

Utility companies often face legal and regulatory constraints that prevent them from passing the cost of a rebrand to their consumers. And much like oil and gas corporations, there are typically multiple legal entities operating under one brand umbrella. Each may come with its own set of consumer-facing branded assets — such as billing statements, mobile apps, and fleet vehicles — that must be branded or co-branded differently.

Such was the case for a prominent midwestern energy brand seeking to unite six distinct legal entities under a common visual identity. They engaged BrandActive to help them develop creative strategies for reducing costs. In fact, they asked us to figure out a way to accomplish their objectives using just 20% of the original proposed budget.

To meet this ambitious goal, we:

  • Conducted scenario planning workshops to project the financial impact of various implementation strategies (e.g. updating only the main sign at each location rather than replacing all signs)
  • Lengthened the implementation timeline to a five-year period to spread the cost of the project over multiple fiscal years
  • Prioritized which branded assets to convert immediately and determined which could wait
  • Carefully followed all regulatory requirements related to RFPs and vendor engagements to ensure the client stayed compliant while obtaining the best prices possible

We also looked for ways to update assets as part of the normal operational replacement schedule. For example, we discovered that some fleet vehicles were scheduled to be replaced prior to the rebrand’s projected rollout. By simply delaying those plans by a month or two, we were able to brand the new vehicles with the updated visual identity at the point of purchase rather than pay to convert them down the road.

Expert guidance can help you clear the hurdles of rebranding an energy company

Many challenges and complexities arise when rebranding an energy company. If you don’t have the internal support necessary to implement your rebrand across a multitude of decentralized locations, it’s wise to seek outside help.

BrandActive is familiar with the legal considerations, regulatory implications, and logistical considerations of rebranding energy companies. We’ve helped some of the world’s largest companies achieve successful results within their desired parameters. We’d love to help you, too. Just reach out.