Founded as the Ohio Oil Company in 1887, the Marathon Oil Company, known as such since 1930, is an oil an energy company that has recently divided its two main businesses: 1) The “upstream” business, which is responsible for the exploration and mining of oil and 2) The “downstream” business, which is about the refining, marketing, and transportation of the oil. In broad terms. The upstream business has been spun-off into its own company called Marathon Petroleum Corporation and is keeping the old logo. The downstream business has kept the Marathon Oil Company name and adopted a new logo, designed by Houston, TX-based BrandExtract.
The new Marathon Oil logo is an abstracted tri-color energy wave that symbolizes the momentum resulting from its upstream activity as well as the drive and innovation of the Company’s employees.
The process for creating a new logo began in February with an employee survey. Results of the feedback emphasized eight key attributes of the Company: focused, energetic, innovative, nimble, socially responsible, ethical, driven and global. The logo was designed based on these key descriptors.
— Press Release
The old, but not yet deceased, logo was familiar, mostly because Marathon operates about 5,000 gas stations across the Midwest and Southeast, so it had a bit of equity. It isn’t anything fetching, kind of unsightly actually and if it were a new logo introduced today it would get reamed, but it has that nostalgic patina that designers find so appealing. The new logo has so much corporate patina it has its own executive assistant. Which is not to say that it’s bad. It’s fairly competent. The typography, set in well spaced Gotham is quite inoffensive. It doesn’t pander with all lowercase or a bubbly sans serif. “Corporation” aligns with the “h” and the end of “Oil”. The wave icon, while not inspired sits nicely above the name and the weave of the colors is nicely executed without resorting to gradients or overlays. So this is not a revolutionary identity but for a Houston-based*, large-ass company, this is remarkably good.
* Nothing against Houston-based companies, just acknowledging that they are very conservative and boring (identity-wise).