History of the Phillips 66 Brand and Logo

History of the Phillips 66 Brand and Logo


Phillips 66, an enduring icon of America's petroleum industry, has been fuelling the nation's journeys for over a century. Its story, woven into the fabric of the country's motoring history, exemplifies the spirit of American entrepreneurship. 

The Birth of Phillips 66

Brothers Frank and L.E. Phillips founded the Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1917, embarking on a journey that would redefine the landscape of the American oil industry. The moniker "Phillips 66", however, came into existence later. During a 1927 car test using their new high-octane gasoline, the driver hit a speed of "66" mph, a significant achievement in those times. This event, combined with the allure of Route 66 (a highway that came to symbolize the freedom and optimism of cross-country travel), inspired the now-famous brand name, "Phillips 66".

Phillips 66

As for the company's logo, its earliest version predates 1930. The original design was a simple, impactful emblem bearing the company's name, and while it didn't yet embody the highway theme, it served as a prominent symbol of the brand's commitment to quality fuel products. But it was the subsequent redesign, the iconic shield emblem, which truly captured the spirit of the brand. Unveiled in 1930, this version, featuring the number 66 within an orange and black crest (mirroring U.S. highway signs), resonated with the country's burgeoning motoring culture, turning the logo into a hallmark of American roadways.

Evolution of the Phillips 66 Logo

The Phillips 66 logo, as we've come to know it today, wasn't the product of a singular design session. Rather, it evolved gradually over the years, reflective of the changing tastes and design principles of its times. The initial text-based design gave way to the symbolic black and orange shield in 1930, a form that resonated with the advent of America's growing fascination with the open road. The logo evoked a sense of movement, energy, and forward-thinking, aligning perfectly with the national sentiment of progress and freedom.

Phillips 66

Various tweaks were made over the years, but the fundamental elements of the logo – the number 66 and the shield – remained intact, serving as a testament to the brand's longevity and consistency. 

In 1959, Phillips 66 introduced a significant revamp of its logo to reflect the company's forward momentum and the changing design sensibilities of the era. The redesigned logo retained the distinctive shield shape, but it was visually striking with a bold new color scheme of black, white, and red, differing significantly from the previous black and orange.

The transformed logo displayed a white numeral "66" set against a contrasting red backdrop in the lower portion of the shield, creating a dramatic and eye-catching effect. The upper section of the shield was filled with white, with the word "Phillips" displayed in black letters, balancing the bright colors below.

Phillips 66 - 1959

The updated design gave the logo a sleek, modern look that effectively caught the eye and remained memorable to customers. The leaning, almost italic "66" gave a sense of motion and progress, symbolizing the company's commitment to advancement and its vision for the future.

This revamped logo reflected the post-war optimism and energetic spirit of the late 1950s. It became an enduring symbol of the Phillips 66 brand, embodying its commitment to quality, innovation, and the drive towards the future.

Advertising Strategies of Phillips 66

From the very beginning, Phillips 66 understood the power of effective advertising. The company used its logo not merely as a brand identifier but as a narrative element in its communication strategies. In the early days, Phillips 66 advertising focused on the quality and performance of its gasoline, using catchy slogans like "The Gasoline of Power" and "Hurry Up or High Test?" These phrases, often accompanied by the emblematic shield, helped embed the brand in the minds of consumers.

As the company grew, so did its advertising efforts. In addition to print media, Phillips 66 embraced radio, and later television, as platforms to reach an even broader audience. Memorable ad campaigns like the "Go with Phillips 66... the gasoline that won the West" from the 1960s, capitalized on America's love for mythology and the open road, further strengthening the brand's association with freedom and adventure. The logo, acting as a trusty visual anchor, has been a constant through all the brand's advertising endeavors.

Impact of Phillips 66 Advertising and Logo

The combined power of Phillips 66's innovative advertising and distinctive logo has left an indelible mark on the petroleum industry and the broader realm of American popular culture. The ubiquitous shield logo, adorning countless fuel stations across the country, is not just a signpost for drivers; it's a symbol of enduring quality and reliability.

The advertising campaigns of Phillips 66 have always been more than just about selling gasoline. They were selling an experience, a sense of adventure and freedom that resonated deeply with consumers, especially during the heyday of American automobile travel. This approach fostered a strong brand identity and customer loyalty that has stood the test of time.

Moreover, the company's consistent use of its logo in all advertising and branding initiatives has cemented its image in the minds of consumers. The continuity of the logo design, despite minor tweaks, underscores the brand's steadiness and commitment to its heritage and values, contributing to its longevity in a competitive market.

The journey of Phillips 66 brand, marked by its distinctive logo and innovative advertising, serves as a compelling case study in successful branding. From its roots in the early 20th century, through the boom of the automobile era, to the present day, Phillips 66 has used its logo and advertising strategies to create a powerful brand identity that's as familiar as the open road itself. The iconic shield logo, synonymous with high-quality fuel and a pioneering spirit, continues to guide drivers across America, remaining a steadfast beacon in the ever-evolving landscape of the oil industry.

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