Polish Origins of the Petroleum Industry
In the years 1852–1853, two young Polish pharmacists, Ignacy Łukasiewicz and Jan Zeh, performed tests on a liquid obtained from the thickening of seep oil. Experiments on the purified liquid, known afterwards as lighting kerosene, showed that it produced a strong and bright light when burning. On July 31st 1853, for the first time in the world, kerosene lamps, designed by Ignacy Łukasiewicz, illuminated the hospital in Lwów. This event is considered to be the starting point of the petroleum oil industry in Poland and in the world.
Ignacy Łukasiewicz continued to improve his invention and pioneered in the use of oil produced in the Subcarpathian Region of Poland at industrial scale. In 1854, in cooperation with business partners, he founded the first oil company in the world, which commenced production and use of oil at Bóbrka near Krosno. In 1856, he launched the first crude oil distillery in Poland, in Ulaszowice.
Thanks to the activity initiated by Ignacy Łukasiewicz, the new branch of industry was developing dynamically in Poland until the outbreak of World War II.
History of the Three Orange Letters
In July 1944, an institution was established whose role was to secure the crude oil infrastructure which survived the war and German occupation, and commence distribution activities. On August 14th 1944, the first official document was released in which the institution was referred to as Polski Monopol Naftowy (Polish Oil Monopoly). However, in the same year in October, its name changed to Państwowe Biuro Sprzedaży Produktów Naftowych (State Office for the Sale of Petroleum Products).
CPN owes its “contemporary” name to the Minister of Industry, who on December 3rd 1945, by virtue of a special order, established a state-owned company called Centrala Produktów Naftowych (Head Office for Petroleum Products). A decade later the company underwent another resutructuring, and was renamed Centralny Zarząd Obrotu Produktami Naftowymi “CPN” (Central Management of Trade in Petroleum Products “CPN”).
Three years passed and the company returned to its previous name, this time combining it with the acronym CPN. Thus, the name was “Centrala Produktów Naftowych CPN”. In December 1995, the company became a state-stock company, which resulted in adding the acronym S.A. to its name.
In 1960’s, the CPN logo was developed by Ryszard Bojar, who also, in cooperation with Jerzy Solik and Jerzy Słowikowski, devised an entire visual identification system for CPN. The product of their work, namely the white and orange logo combining letters CPN, crowned the company’s service stations for years. Shortly before its deregistration, the company had over 1,400 service stations and nearly 600 tanker cars for fuel transport.
The CPN logo was used until 1999, when, after over half a century of presence on the market, the company was deleted from the Commercial Register and its infrastructure became a distribution branch of Polski Koncern Naftowy. Until the present date, many Poles still perceive the name CPN as a synonym to “service station”.
History of the Blue Logo
In 1940’s there were five refineries operating in Poland: Niegłowice near Jasło, Jedlicze near Krosno, Glinik Mariampolski near Gorlice, Trzebinia and Czechowice – Dziedzice. In 1950’s, the constantly rising demand for fuels and raw materials, following from a rapid industrial development and wider use of vehicles, as well as insufficient processing capacities at the existing refineries, created a need to construct another refinery. In 1958, a decision was made to locate the facility in Płock, and on January 5th 1959, it was finally resolved that Mazowieckie Zakłady Rafineryjne i Petrochemiczne (Mazovia Refining and Petrochemical Plant) should be built.
The corporate mark of the new refinery represented a stylised retort, a vessel used in a chemical lab, with the letter “P” inscribed in it. The letter stood for the word “petrochemistry” or, as others believe, the name of town: Płock. The logo was nicknamed “Petka”. From its creation, it was most often presented in white and blue colours.
The political changes which began in Poland in 1980’s triggered transition towards market-oriented economy. As part of the transformations, on July 1st 1993, MZRiP was transformed into a joint-stock company under the name of Petrochemia Płock S.A. To reflect the change in the corporate logo, the existing sign was supplemented with the name and a joining line under the text. From that moment, depending on the form of presentation, both the new version of the logo and the stylised retort were used.
In 1993, that version of the logo was displayed on the first white service stations and tanker cars. A few years later the colour scheme of the service stations was changed to blue and white.
Eagle and Energy
In May 1998, the Council of Ministers resolved to establish a national petroleum company by merging Centrala Produktów Naftowych CPN S.A.
with Petrochemia Płock S.A. Thus, on September 7th 1999, Polski Koncern Naftowy S.A. came to existence.
The newly-established company needed a new brand. When looking for a trade name, efforts were made to achieve associations with the ideas prevailing in the Company’s brand strategy: world-class, petroleum, modern and national. The Company wished for the name to reflect quality, strength, power and energy, be suitable for a manufacturer operating in the fuel and petrochemical industry, and demonstrate the Company’s use of advanced technology, environmental-friendly approach and customer focus. Naturally, the Polish origin of the Company and its dominating position on the market had to be incorporated as well.
Surveys initiated at the end of 1999 resulted in selection, from over a thousand names, of one name evoking the desired associations and enabling a simple interpretation and registration as a trade mark. That name was ORLEN, combining parts of the words: ORZEŁ (eagle) and ENERGIA (energy).
The next stage in the process of developing a visual identitification system for the ORLEN brand was designing a graphic sign which would be a good match to the name. The most outstanding Polish graphic designers were invited to take part in a design competition for the Company’s logo. The jury was most impressed with the work of professor Henryk Chyliński, who also designed the logos for the Teraz Polska Foundation and the Polish Radio.
The winning sign represented a stylised eagle’s head. The present form of the logo also incorporates the trade name ORLEN, displayed on a rectangular field. Red, white, grey and silver were chosen as the Company’s brand colours.
On April 3rd 2000, the Company’s Extraordinary General Shareholders Meeting resolved that Polski Koncern Naftowy S.A. should adopt the trade name ORLEN. The brand image of ORLEN was first presented in 2000, in connection with the secondary public offering of the Company shares on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.
The ORLEN brand became the centrepiece of the Company’s communication and marketing activities, helping PKN ORLEN to create a consistent method of communication and standardise all market activities in terms of brand image.
The structure of the ORLEN brand identity is of a monolithic nature, resulting in the use of uniform branding for the Company, its products and members of its Group. At present, to demonstrate consistent identity within the Group, the members either add “ORLEN” to their names or add “the ORLEN Group” to supplement their existing names. Accordingly, the ORLEN brand became a part of the image of the Group companies and their products.
However, the most popular version of the logo is the one which is commonly known in red or white colours. The ORLEN logo is also displayed on engine oils and operating fluids, lubricants, and a variety of chemicals for motor vehicles. However, the Company’s flagship is its chain of service stations, whose standards conform to the competencies and requirements specified in the ORLEN corporate brand strategy.
Thanks to the social initiatives carried out by the Company, the ORLEN brand is also familiar to children. From that sprang the idea of developing a corporate mascot. In this way a personalised form of the corporate brand was created. It is a nicely-looking eagle with human features, nicknamed ORLENEK.
Although the ORLEN brand has been present on the market for only a short time, namely since 2000, presently in Poland it is considered to be a synonym to world-class products and to a model of a rapidly developing company.