I’ll admit that it’s hard to write compelling headlines or catchy taglines. While sometimes, sayings make communications stronger (The simple “Yes we can” propelled Obama’s campaign), they can quickly become a danger zone –especially when talking about sustainability. I tend to agree with the “Made to Stick” duo’s argument against slogans: Do it wrong (read: too much or too cheeky) and you run the risk of repulsing the very audience you were hoping to attract. This is especially true for greenwash-wary consumers.
The media, marketers, and PR people alike are guilty of re-using the same green catchphrases again and again until they’ve beaten a dead horse, the fat lady has sung, the shark has been jumped, and the cows have come home, all in the same day. Here are three environment-related slogans that crop up all the time, and have passed the point of cleverness:
1. “It ain’t easy being green,” and its grammatically correct cousin “It’s not easy being green.” Ever since Kermit sang these famous words on Sesame Street, they’ve become the resounding battle cry of the environmentalist movement. They’ve been abused to point out the challenges associated with changing one’s lifestyle or general consumer reluctance. But marketers aren’t the only ones guilty of tenderizing this slogan. Next Earth Day, do a Google News search of both variations and see how many news headlines come up. My guess is hundreds.
2. “LEEDing the way.” We should have seen this one coming from the moment the green building acronym for the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” program was coined. After all, the first word IS leadership. Now, the saying is assaulting us in press releases and marketing materials for government programs, construction companies, and design firms. Their LEEDership might be impressive, but risks an immediate dismissal.
3. “Earth Day every day.” The sad part about this one is that I agree with the philosophy that the Earth shouldn’t be honored just once a year. Whomever said this first should have trademarked it. Now everyone from the EPA to WalMart has used it, and like its two predecessors, it should buy a Panama hat and a second home in a sunnier place.
What overused sustainability slogans do you wish would go away?