Shell brand strategy / positioning case study

Shell Brand Strategy Analysis


Owner of the brand:
Royal Dutch Shell plc

Key competitors: ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Total

Brand essence

Leader in the gas and oil industry offering highest quality products.

Brand values

Leadership, innovation, performance.

Brand character

Premium, authoritative, powerful, pioneering, global.

Dominating archetype

Shell is the biggest company in Europe in terms of revenue and the 5th largest in the world[1]. It’s a vertically integrated business, which means that it is responsible for all stages of petrol manufacturing process: from searching for new sources of natural gas and oil, to drilling, to production of petrol and petrochemicals, to B2C and B2B trading.


Shell is both a corporate and a consumer brand. It uses predominantly the branded house architecture, strengthening the umbrella brand. On the corporate level, the company positions itself as the leader in the oil and gas industry. As a consumer brand, it builds a premium image and emphasises the high quality of its products (petrols, engine oils, lubricants, petrol stations etc.). Marcus Sheldon, Shell Retail Marketing Director told Marketing Week: “[Being seen as premium] is really important for us – most of our customers come to us because of our premium fuel – it’s our differentiator.[2]


Shell’s higher purpose is to satisfy the world’s growing demand for energy in a responsible way[3]. The company understands its responsibility not only in the context of the social and environmental impact, but mainly as a duty towards its shareholders. As a result, its business strategy till 2020 focuses on exploiting traditional sources of energy, that is natural gas and oil. The alternative sources (wind, sun, low-carbon biofuels and hydrogen) are treated as potential opportunities for growth from 2020 onwards[4]. Interestingly, the emphases in Shell’s communication strategy are put conversely (there’s a much stronger focus on clean energy).


Since 2016, Shell has been talking more loudly about its involvement in clean energy movement. It has been encouraging students (e.g. “Shell Ideas 360”[5]) and entrepreneurs (e.g. “Shell Springboard”[6]) to come up with ideas related to low-carbon, zero-emission innovations and supporting them financially for many years. However, only recently it started wider B2C communication activities. With the help of celebrity endorsements (i.a. Pixie Lott and Jennifer Hudson), the company launched “Best Day Of My Life“ campaign[7] as part of its ongoing #makethefuture” communication platform, whose main objective is to promote the idea of clean energy.


Shell’s overarching brand strategy is strongly related to the Ruler archetype as, on the corporate brand level, it concentrates on reinforcing its leadership position and, on the consumer brand level, on building a premium image of the brand. However, the elements of other brand archetypes can be noticed in Shell’s product communication – e.g. the Hero in Shell V-Power Nitro+ ads, where the main focus is put on performance (“Our Best Performance Fuel”[8]).


Dominant colours: yellow and red.

Most important campaigns

1. “Shell V-Power Nitro+” (2019)

2. “On Top Of The World” (2017)

3. “Best Day Of My Life” (2016)

4. Shell V-Power Nitro “Our Best Performance Fuel” (2015)

5. “Introducing Shell Fill Up & Go” UK (2015)


Official brand statement:

Shell is an integrated energy company that aims to meet the world’s growing demand for energy in ways that are economically, environmentally and socially responsible.[9]

Interesting facts:

Shell was set up in 1833 as a business selling seashells to London collectors.[10]

In 1938, Shell came up with the idea of sending anonymous valentine cards to female customers, a tradition that continued until the 1970s.[11]


1. The Drum on Shell’s new target audience
K. Deighton, “As Shell shifts spend to target younger drivers, it is leaning on its agencies more than ever”, The Drum, May 2019,

2. The Drum on the “Best Day of My Life” campaign
R. Stewart, “Why, At 109 Years Old, Shell Is Turning To Musical Influencers Like Pixie Lott For Its #MakeTheFuture campaign””, The Drum, Oct 2016,

3. History of the Shell brand


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