Petroleum and Butterflies…

I have been reflecting on the a branding model theory and the recent EnerWE Conference held in Stavanger, Norway. The biggest query facing  the North Sea energy industry is addressing the communication challenge: “the Elephant in the room”. Watch the video presentation from the conference.

So what do Petroleum and Butterflies have in common?  The petroleum industry has a communication challenge and the Butterfly Branding Model from Wolf Olins has a possible solution. Since the discovery of petroleum as an energy source, it has drastically improved the quality of life for mankind since the early 1900s, yet the industry has failed at every turn to convey this message.

This is not a new topic for the oil industry. Some companies started incorporating sustainable business practices as early as 2007. So why is there such a chasm in communicating this concept? Can solid branding strategies lead to strong social media plans which result in increased ROI?

This theory is exemplified through the Butterfly Branding Model. Let’s now take a look at the elements of the model and apply the concept strategy to the petroleum industry.

Butterfly Branding Model

The Butterfly Branding Model Strategy:

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY? Perceived as greedy and environmentally destructive, lack of transparency, denial and cover-ups.

WHAT MAKES THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY SPECIAL? Petroleum is an energy source that has simplified and drastically improved the quality of life for mankind since the early 19th century.

 IDEA/Branding Foundation: Continued focus on sustainable business practices is vital. While focusing on improvements in the quality of life for the individual and the community, petroleum companies will have the opportunity to connect with communities (customers and or consumers) on a human to human level which will result in optimized feedback, innovative solutions and possible improvements in production methods. ROI can be shared satisfying the stakeholders, the company sustainability and the new focus of investments back into the local community. Revitalization of local parks, farms and community activities for children and elderly should be in focus to gain a connection and become involved with the consumers.

How does the industry communicate this to the public? The petroleum industry needs to believe in their mission, act in their mission and work their mission: Improve transparency. Strive for more economical, safer and less environmental destructive methods of drilling for energy recovery. Hence: “Sell to people that believe what you believe”. (which leads me to my next blog post).

Read more about Wolf Olins.

What’s a girl like me doing in a place like this? – EnerWe 2014 Energy Communication Conference

My #EnerWe conference table buddies.
My #EnerWe conference table buddies.


That’s exactly what I was asking myself last week as I enter the conference hall to find a seat in a group of strangers.  Luckily I’m not shy…and I bumped into a friend of a friend right as I was walking in to the conference. I was introduced to some other very fascinating attendees!  I got to try GoogleGlass! I was encouraged to become more familiar with Google+ (and no this is not paid for by Google! ;o) and I was very impressed with the diversity of the guest speakers.


So why was I there?  I asked my self these repeatedly as my husband and I drove to Stavanger Norway to attend the first annual EnerWE Energy Communication Conference. After a life spent with a man that was was a Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering, I had picked up a little along the way, but I was obviously conflicted about the potential involvement with an business sector that, I felt like was in complete conflict with my personal values and interest. After all, I started a blog a year ago to keep myself busy while waiting for my Norwegian version of a Green Card for living and working permission focused on Fairly Traded and Ethical Business!  Wow. I felt like I was deviating way off track on this excursion.


Why was I venturing into a market segment that was so “opposite” of my blog focus and my value center? Why would I want to become  associated with a business segment that struggled with bad PR? Environmental catastrophes and negative social perceptions at every turn? Then I reflected on something my father once said why discussing politics and why I had chosen to change my political party.  I felt like there was no reason for me to be affiliated with an organization that was moving in a direction that was very different than my core values. But he said, “Why not become more involved and try to make a difference? Why not stick it out and be a positive support to other people that may feel the same way that you do but don’t know how to change the problems?”  Then I understood that maybe there is a demand for more Social Responsibility in this market segment as well? The interest in the dynamic prevalence and growing marketing channel of Social Media was the initial reason for my participation in the conference.


I was fascinated as we learned from the EnerWE conference that the industry is aware of it’s challenges and some companies are focusing on addressing the issue.  Øyvind Ihlen, Professor at the  University I Oslo, drove right to the most important concern for me and apparently a growing concern for the Social and Environmentally aware energy companies:   “The Elephant in the Room for Energy sector:

Climate and Environmental concerns of neighboring communities. How to improve public relations? Bringing High tech oil and gas industry to the level of local communities and individual neighbors..”

BINGO!  There it was!  My theory was confirmed. My mission was defined and my purpose was justified!

Overall I would say the conference was well worth my time to learn more about the North Sea Petroleum and Energy companies and how they perceive themselves. But best of all was the journey the people that I met along the way!



This morning I was greeted by a tweet that I and another conference attendee had won the EnerWe Instagram contest!  WaaHooo! Check it out on Twitter.


Check out the conference summary.

You can find other pics from the conference at #enerWe on Instagram.



conference friends





Goodbye Stavanger