Sustainability Branding and Earth Day Event Planning and Design for CSX Transportation’s Environmental Operations

CSX had an image problem. The public perceived the company to be environmentally irresponsible. Part of this stemmed from the fact that the public conjures up pictures of powerful locomotives belching black smoke when they hear the word railroad. But part of it was due to well-publicized incidences where CSX made mistakes. One infamous example was when a chemical car burned in a New Orleans neighborhood. Although no one was hurt, a jury sent a message to CSX by awarding plaintiffs $3.4 billion. In response, CSX underwent a top-to-bottom cultural change focused on environmental responsibility and safety. They needed to get a new message out—that CSX was a changed company.

We were retained by CSX to help promote their environmental focus internally and externally. Internally, we designed communications for environmental training and operations. Externally, we used several coordinated strategies to promote the company’s sustainability. These included:

  • An award-winning, 24-page book and three consecutive Earth Day events for employees and the public. In the book, Transporting What We Need Today and Responsibly Caring for Our Future, we summarized CSX’s extensive environmental programs. In order to make it comprehensible, we developed an overall framework using People, Water, Air, and Earth. 

  • Earth Day events that showcased CSX’s environmental focus through indoor and outdoor exhibits, posters, videos, speakers, and student participation. The lobby of CSX’s headquarters was transformed into a rainforest, with thatched huts, trees, animals, and educational features about CSX’s environmental stewardship.

  • Coordinated student participation at three schools, where students created bird houses and artwork celebrating the environment.


The book and the Earth Day events were unlike anything CSX had done before. More than 300 employees and members of the public participated each year. The event was attended by the mayor of Jacksonville and other local dignitaries.

The book was awarded a Gold Ink Award, the print industry’s most prestigious award, and a Parthenon Award, Nashville’s communication award competition.

Deanna BurksComment