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When you see colour, think of petrol pumps

By Hemangi Balse in Mumbai
September 22, 2004 09:47 IST
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India's state-owned petroleum companies are borrowing a leaf from a paint company's memorable ad campaign some years ago ("Whenever you think of colour, think of us").

So when you think of Indian Oil Corporation, think of saffron. When you think of Bharat Petroleum Corporation, think of light yellow and blue. And when you think of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, think of startling blue and red.

From December, several existing petrol stations will sport these colours on everything, from signages to canopies, as part of an image improvement, makeover and differentiator exercise.

IOC earlier sported rainbow colours, but has started switching to saffron (the BJP, no doubt, will cheer). Says IOC director (marketing), N G Kannan, "Our primary intention is to consolidate and build on the existing strength of the IOC identity. Saffron, therefore, has been identified as a primary colour driver for the retail network."

"Bharat Petroleum is focusing on reliability and innovation with lighter shades of yellow and blue," says a senior BPCL official. This apart, BPCL is also balancing the yin and yang elements in its logos at its pumps.

The lit portion of the canopy will, as one company official puts it, have a "different shade of yellow to represent energy, life, an eastern outlook and the family, while blue has a modern, high-tech and western outlook which is being balanced by white, representing cool and fair. This shows waves in the form of water and was designed by Indian Institute of Technology consultants."

For its part, HPCL roped in a Malaysian-Australian consortium, the Petrodesign group, which designed and suggested the material that would be used in signages and so on. "HPCL's startling blue spine with red-lit arc and HP logo balanced on the spine has come after two years of planning.

The signage is a part of the retail branding strategy of the company, which was named 'Project Aakarshan'. We used our corporate colours and are using international material, an aluminium composite, from reputed companies for our signage", says a senior HPCL official.

HPCL has already fitted the new signages in 150 'Club HP' outlets and the number is expected to touch 500 by the end of this year. Within two-three years, all HPCL and BPCL outlets will have a new look.

All this, of course, is being done as part of a bigger gameplan to cope with the coming private sector competition. Essar Oil, for example, is opening petrol pumps in rural and semi-urban areas -- and these are painted red. Its 98 outlets in the western region are known as 'Essar ke lal pumps.'

Reliance Industries hired the UK-based Minale Tattersfield to design its outlets and has opted for blue, green and white as its primary colours -- colours that also apply to its telecommunications business. "The green represents green, clean fuel from Reliance," says an industry source. So whether its red, green or blue or saffron, whenever you see colour, think of petro companies.

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Hemangi Balse in Mumbai

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