Dear Umbra,

My work colleagues are trying to think of a catchy slogan to celebrate Earth Day this year. We typically plan a week of activities to educate and increase awareness of the benefits of being green. However, we are having a hard time agreeing on a slogan. Here are some ideas to date: Lean & Green, Go Green Week, Why Be Green Week, Green and Proud, Choose Green, Green: BeCAUSE we can, Money DOES grow on trees!, Green your Routine, Being Green Makes Cents, Green Week, Think Green Week, Green Spirit Week, Green Deal Week, Green Economy Week, Green Earth Week, Green Planet Week, One Planet Week, Green Is Good Week, Green Innovation Week, Green to the Bottom Line Week, Greening the Bottom Line, Lean Green Week, Be Seen in Green Week, BeGreen Week, Glean Green Week, See Green Week, Green Enterprise Week, Green Guide Week.

Please help us get out of the slogan quagmire.

Claire M.
Petaluma, Calif.

Dearest Claire,

Here at Grist HQ, we have access to the brightest, shiniest minds in slogan making — our readers. We also have eight headline-writing squirrels, but I cannot say whether your situation will interest them. They are headstrong.

A few thoughts about your quandary from yours truly, and then I hand you over to the Grist Reader Brain Trust. You sent me 28 slogans, which give me little clue as to what the theme of the week will be, or what I might gain from the week. My editor and I can’t even agree whether this week is an internal event or a public event. I get a slight sense from a slogan like “Green Enterprise Week” that you are giving financial tips, but this sense is then stymied by a slogan like “Be Seen in Green Week,” which sounds more like a St. Patty’s Day exhortation. You need to be more specific. That might mean some more work by you and your colleagues figuring out the actual point of the week’s events, or it might simply mean some better wordsmithing.

My ignorance about your plans is a barrier to making concrete suggestions, but let’s say the week focuses on green investing. The real, kind of dull title of the week is “Learn how to invest in environmentally responsible companies that provide comparable returns to traditional investments.” Whoooeee! From this thrilling start, or a similar one, we must find several key words that indubitably convey your objectives. I’m a big fan of coming out and saying it: Learn Green Investing, Invest to Benefit the Environment, Earn Money with Ecological Companies. However, you might also go for the element of surprise: “Invest Like the Squirrels” would surely lure the curious, wouldn’t it?

Another suggestion is to give up on your apparent guidelines (habits?): using three words, invoking “green,” and trying to rhyme. Frankly, I’d advise against using the word “green” (which you do 26 out of 28 times), because people are already tiring of hearing it. Also, is it necessary to say “week”? Don’t beat around the linguistic bush. Be straightforward and let the cleverness fall into place as it will.

So, Claire, my advice boils down to this: Be specific. Be straightforward or surprising, as fits your company culture. And stop trying to rhyme. Now your job is to write the first reader response, down below, and let us know a little bit about what people will learn during this week and what unusual elements will be part of the festivities. Henceforth it is my hope that the Grist readership will shower you with slogans.

Power to the Peoplely,
Umbra