Energy efficiency is a popular concept with an image problem. The conservation movement has the World Wildlife Fund's panda, the cancer fighting movement has Lance Armstrong's "Livestrong" bracelets, and energy efficiency has ... the Energy Star logo? That's not much of a rallying point, which is why Frog Design organized an Energy ThinkIn  this past week--a day-long session for designers, entrepreneurs, and executives to work on a symbol (or a brand) for energy efficiency and the smart grid.
The session, which brought together people from organizations as varied as Ernst & Young, Intel, the U.S. Department of Energy, and Nanosolar, didn't come up with the energy efficiency movement's "Live Strong" equivalent, but it did yield some promising ideas. In the end, five big ideas emerged :
- "Kill Pluggy," a game to dispose of an energy-sucking vampire. Sunlight (solar power) melts him. Wooden stakes (composting) do him in, as does water (hydro power).
- The Power of 1, a program of marking individual homes and neighborhoods with LED placards showing their participation in energy-efficiency and smart grid programs.
- En-power, concentric arrows pointing up to symbolize individuals working to save power. Its slogan: “What is your house power?”
- Life Tag, an RFID chip or printed tag showing how much energy was used to create every consumer product.
- Power Forward, a campaign symbolized by the universal power-button symbol turned sideways and given an arrowhead. Individuals would use the campaign to show their commitment to energy efficiency.
We don't see "Kill Pluggy" catching on as a mainstream rallying cry anytime soon, but the other ideas have some merit. Power Forward bumper stickers and bracelets, perhaps? Or Life Tags as a kind of nutrition label for consumer products? We'll be watching Frog Design for hints of what's to come in the smart energy branding space.