This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.
Established in 1899 in Seattle, WA, Woodland Park Zoo — previously the private park of Guy C. Phinney, a wealthy lumber mill owner and real estate developer — currently sits on 92 acres and features more than 1,090 individual animals representing nearly 300 species. The zoo is well known for advancing animal exhibits to be more naturalistic and closer to each animal’s habitats. This month Woodland Park Zoo, with the launch of a new capital campaign that aims to raise $80 million, introduced a new identity and theme — “More Wonder. More Wild.” — created by Phinney Bischoff Design House. I wonder if they got the job because they have the same name as the zoo’s original founder? (Kidding).
Both the new logo and campaign theme are the culmination of extensive research and a collaborative creative process. Working closely with the Zoo’s executive team and in-house creative leaders, PBDH solicited feedback at various stages from the public, staff, volunteers, donors and others to gather critical insights and inform the design process. An extensive review of zoo logos from around the world revealed a variety of overused design approaches, and a survey of the general public (with nearly 700 responses) helped outline key areas for design exploration. The research revealed two essential insights: 1) the new logo would need to successfully communicate that the Zoo is both a conservation leader and wonder-inspiring educator, and 2) the new logo would need to represent the Zoo’s new model of experiencing the wonder of wild animals up close. These insights fundamentally guided the creative process, and are evident in both the new logo and campaign theme.
“The bold, new identity captures the Zoo’s mission as an organization that makes a difference globally and inspires wonder locally. This is the face of Woodland Park Zoo’s future as a leading conservation and education organization,” says Dr. Deborah Jensen, President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo.
The old logo was pretty, even with the phosphorescent crane walking among all the other animals, but reducing that menagerie into a business card would have turned it into something resembling road kill more than anything, so I can see the need to move to a simpler and bolder logo. The new icon on the logo is somewhat ambiguous in whether it’s the stripes of a zebra or a tiger so it leaves something to the imagination and allows visitors to interpret on their own. I do like the abstraction and reduction and the ability of the icon to offer a new-ish take on zoo logos. Unfortunately the typography on the logo, the campaign website, and the materials brings the sophistication down a notch. Gill Sans, like Helvetica, has little place in twenty-first century identity creation, it sets the clock back by at least thirty years making any identity look instantly dated. But let’s assume I’m a typeface douchebag and that Gill Sans is a perfectly fine choice… the lock-up is too bulky and tight and it places emphasis on the wrong words, “Park” and “Zoo,” when I’m guessing most people recognize the word “Woodland.” It also reads as “Woodland: Park Zoo” even when they tried to color coordinate it to read “Woodland Park, Zoo.” So, in summary: great icon, bad type, visit Woodland Park Zoo!