There are huge unresolved questions around the uncapped well in the Gulf of Mexico.
For anyone interested in brands this last question is a particularly interesting one to think about.
Brands are the associations linked to a name, mark or symbol. These associations can be positive or negative; a brand can help you or hurt you. An unknown brand is better than a brand with strong negative associations.
I suspect BP has gotten more negative press than any brand in the history of the world. The disaster has generated a stream of negative stories; it has gone on and on. These stories have fed the vast global media machine. People all over the world are writing about BP, blogging about BP and twittering about BP. And all of this is negative.
When BP plugs the well and finishes the cleanup, the company will then have to make an important branding decision. What should be done with the severely damaged BP brand? Should the company try to rebuild it? Or walk away?
My bet is that the company will drop the BP brand. This might occur through an acquisition, where another company acquires BP and drops the tainted BP brand. Or it might occur through a simple name change.
And this would be the right decision. It will be virtually impossible to create positive associations around BP. The media coverage has been so extensive and so widespread that the BP brand will always be tainted.
If BP caps the well in August look for the BP brand to fade away in 2011.