New: Logo and visual
Launched: January 18, 2011
Story in brief:
When a world class identity designer (e.g. Gillette,
Bank of America, Lockheed Martin) moves from The Big City to
rural central Pennsylvania, you can bet that central
Pennsylvania will soon look more big-time. This was set in
motion last June, when Bob Wolf resettled his family in York,
PA, and soon answered an RFP from Bill Shipley's family-owned
regional home heating company, whose vans and tanker trucks loom
large in the region's visual environment.
Why rebrand? It's a textbook case of the use of identity change,
by a leader, for multiple purposes:
1) Strategic broadening:
are changing because today we are no longer just oil. Natural gas
now as big as our oil business. Propane gas was not even on the
horizon 15 years ago—and Shipley is now a recognized leader in our
region. And we continue to push toward a future that includes
2) Brand consolidation & unit cohesion.
"One central brand idea across our lines of businesses"
3) Support a culture of dynamism.
"We're changing because it's what we do. Shipley is
constantly reinventing itself [and] the industry"
4) Refresh, renew employee energy...
"Re-energize the talents and commitment of our caring
In addition, Bill Shipley recognized that the old mark "did not go
far enough to represent the Shipley Energy of the present and
future," in stature and quality impressions. It featured a
helicopter, once but no longer used for emergency fuel deliveries
(snowmobiles are now more cost-effective), thus irrelevant to
customers in newer service areas.
Wolf's design solution features an abstract circular symbol plus
a strong visual system, whose curved green forms evoke the rolling
hills of Shipley country.
The launch event was an arena party for 400 employees and guests
with film, music and an unveiling of three vehicles. In his thank
you note to Wolf that evening, Bill Shipley said "The space was
perfect, the lighting dramatic, the sound outstanding and the
rolling back of the curtains made for a spectacular finish. There
were ooohs and aaahs and cheering and …wow…the room was transformed
by the performance."
So too, let us hope, was the company.
C.E.O. - William Shipley III
Identity counsel - Bob Wolf with Völckmann
Communications counsel - Ohlin Associates
Identity design - Bob Wolf, Wolf Design Partners
Strategy: A strategic and creative
rebranding well conceived, planned, sourced and executed.
Design: The logo itself (symbol/wordmark) is
straightforwardly functional, and conveys a professional
impression. I must confess I struggled at first with the impulse
to see an S in the symbol, or otherwise to read meaning into it.
But then, when I also saw the green forms of the secondary
visual system, the symbol became a landscape reference (and
reminded me, incidentally, of Bob's Bank of America symbol). For
me, these separate hill forms seem a more powerful visual
identifier than the logo itself.
In fact, this program exemplifies a growing trend toward more
comprehensively designed and more assertive "secondary" visual
elements. We saw this last year in Wolff Olins'
PwC, and we'll see
more as Starbucks rolls out the new patterns and other elements of
its Lippincott-designed visual system. Ken Cato (of
has actually trademarked his own name for this technique: "Broader
Q: How did client Shipley find designer Wolf ?
A: Through contacts resulting from Wolf's probono work in the
Full disclosure: Bob Wolf is a design associate of Tony Spaeth /
Identity. You will see his work again in a forthcoming Review.
Corporate Brand Matrix
structural, 85% strategic, 15% functional (est.)
Bill Shipley & brand values, at launch event
"The EnergyFlow Mark"