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The Big Green Paint Job

By Naseem Javed
Jan 23, 2008 5:10 AM PT

Suddenly, of the hundreds of available colors, there is a rush all over the world to paint almost everything green -- green paint, green ribbons, green wrappings and green fabrics are everywhere.

The Big Green Paint Job

Green logos, green billboards and almost politically correct green ties are becoming the most fashionable and trendy statements. Just like a year-round St. Patrick's Day, the big green dress party has started. It's as if the people running corporations believe this process will provide them with a green mask, giving them the appearance of a fighter, the presence of a leader, out fixing the global environment.

Oh Really?

The marketing and communication machines of big businesses all across the world are wrapped up in the activity of projecting ecology and greenery -- the color, that is. Meanwhile, they are merely becoming more wrapped up in devising color schemes than in cutting carbon emissions and real ecology matters.

The Green Illusion

One would only be amazed to see how all over the world, garbage bins from offices are so regularly emptied by green-uniformed personnel; while the same companies on the other side of the not-so-green escarpments are spewing purple, red and black liquids into the rivers and streams. There is something wrong with this scene; though carefree waste production is still considered to be the backbone of the industrial revolution and its related superiority.

Is this entire ecology-sensitive greenery facade just a hoopla offering lip-service to the green movement, or does the real message still need some serious distillation?

Now, this of course calls to mind the super-green-men of the new branding circus. As the green signal zips across the globe, the army of re-packaging experts awaits in their shiny green suits, carrying green flags while humming the song of the unicorn.

When 'E' Was Trendy

It reminds me of the hysteria seen during the heyday of e-commerce, where the same armies came up with the idea of inserting the letter "e" into any corporate identity to project the software-savvy side of e-commerce and digital superiority over their old, struggling industrial dinosaurs like sawmills and beaten-up metal factories.

The need to re-brand and relabel was essential in order to catch the attention of the IPO boom and stock markets of the world, resulting in the creating of e-Lumber, e-Steel and e-Cement. During the dizzying period of "irrational exuberance," companies often falsely pretended that their smoking chimneys were really cyber-towers of artificial intelligence, and projected e-commerce hype during the uncontrollable stock market boom, creating instant millionaires. Of course, a little while later, there was silence as the bust created a new chapter in corporate history.

The idea of using recycled paper for the annual reports of polluting companies such as Exxon is not new. The art of camouflaging the real issues while projecting honesty and integrity is the goal of every corporation around the globe. There is also a lot of honest work being done on all fronts too, no doubt.

Real Green Action

The question is, should corporations and producers of hardcore toxins simply hide behind sing-song, spinning green logos, or should they firmly stand up to the challenge and embrace the tough environmental questions?

The current branding industry is already ever so confused with a logo-dependent approach that they are forced to reinvent themselves as highly competent image makers hiding behind green masks, to cope with this issue. Is there anything wrong with this? Not really, but the fact is that somewhere along the line, the truth will eventually be exposed; green colored text on green ads, and green colored cars on green painted roads simply won't do it.

Nevertheless, the current explosive greening message and repaint-to-green movement could be turned into a very good idea in the long run, but not like any typical, short lived and bizarre advertising campaign, and certainly not to become just another version of the happy-go-lucky-green-fad as a self-indulging exercise to fool oneself.

The public all over the world is becoming smarter by the day and can read between the lines much better than it could a decade ago, thanks to the Internet and global connectivity, where the truth cannot be sugar-coated forever; this issue craves honesty and demands leadership. Countries of the world could team up, take the lead role, invent and develop solutions and technologies, which would not only enforce a new boom to new technologies but also improve its global sustainability.

Dubai Leads the Way

There are some very powerful big and small plans all over the world to go green, as in improved ecology measures, not paint jobs. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the first place in the Middle East to introduce 'green building standards' along with holding events on promoting environmentally friendly measures, creating platforms for debate and discussions.

Today, Dubai has become a global center for conferences and forums, there were more such events in the last few years than any other city in the world. Given that it is respected widely among the international community, Dubai is easily in the ideal position to host a debate that will invite members from all over the world to devise a game plan to address these environmentally pressing issues. The impact of such activities would be huge in Asia, attracting new technologies and alternatives to bringing about environmental improvements. Eco-issues are inevitably going to end up at the top of the agenda, as numbers continue to rise and events become more and more dramatic. The wrath of nature is upon us.

Amidst the eco-warriors trying to sell their environmental issues to global leaders, some of whose countries pollute more than others, this worldly cause is perhaps the only subject under which all parties can get together under a single cause to figure out long-term solutions to an environmentally friendly future. Let's have a drink to that, but not a green-colored one.


Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on Corporate Image and Global Cyber-Branding. Author of Naming for Power, he introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 1980s and also founded ABC Namebank, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto a quarter century ago. Currently, he is on a lecture tour in Asia and can be reached at nj@njabc.com.


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