Climate Hawks: Rebranding “Green” So It Can Reach Beyond Just Lefties

An environmental mini-movement gets a logo that lives up to its no-nonsense stance on climate change.


Environmentalism, sustainability, being “green” — that’s all great if you’re a tree-hugging weenie with a crush on Al Gore and a compost box in your kitchen. What about the rest of us? Somewhere between “An Inconvenient Truth” and Sarah Palin’s TV show, caring about the basic geophysical future of our civilization became synonymous with liberalism, socialism, and plenty of other “isms” that half the people in this country wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. That poses a tremendous image problem for climate change. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


So goes the idea behind so-called “climate hawks”: a meme-turned-mini-movement that says you don’t have to shop at Whole Foods or vote Democrat to take climate science seriously. And now, thanks to designer Joe Immen, climate hawks have a visual identity to help spread the word with.


Here’s a bumper sticker version:



Immen created his logo as a personal project — like the Tea Party, climate hawks aren’t an officially organized group. But the message resonated with him, so he started sketching out some ideas. Here are some that didn’t make the cut:


images © courtesy of Joe Immen

“I thought it should look more modern instead of being retro, because the impacts of climate change are in the future,” Immen tells Co.Design. “I also wanted it to stand out and be visible from a distance, so I used bold colors inspired by the Obama campaign.” The hawk imagery was obvious enough: “This whole notion of ‘hawkish” references the military and patriotism, which are concepts that have become disassociated from the idea of taking climate change seriously,” Immen continues. “So the hawk is about making environmentalism seem like it has some toughness behind it, that it’s grounded in reality.”

In other words: *$#& the spotted owl, we’ve got real problems coming at us because of this.



Some of Joe Immen’s early type treatments for the logo.

That’s not to say Immen’s design has nothing for the hardcore enviro-wonk to appreciate, though. Peer closely at the hawk’s right wing and you’ll notice a certain shape already made (in)famous in other imagery. “When I played around with the hawk, I noticed that its wing echoes the hockey stick graph of increasing temperatures,” says Immen. “It wasn’t intentional, but it’s a subtle reference that I left in. In fact, the actual hockey stick is more upright and scary-looking.”

[Read more at Joe Immen’s website]

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets