More wonder. More wild.

Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, one of the nation’s premier zoos with over 120 years of history, wanted a fresh take on their identity in anticipation of their $80 million capital campaign. They turned to Phinney Bischoff, and the result is a fresh, relevant brand and identity system built for the future.

“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.”
Dr. Deborah Jensen, former President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo.

The Challenge

Woodland Park Zoo’s identity was dated and difficult to work with across a variety of marketing needs. In particular, the complexity of the logo did not scale successfully. We were asked to take the identity of the Zoo into the 21st Century by repositioning it as a leading education and conservation organization with a mission to inspire audiences to learn, care, and act. A primary goal was to streamline their identity and naming system to establish a more cohesive and manageable program.

In addition, the Zoo needed a foundational strategy to guide their upcoming capital campaign.


The Woodland Park Zoo has long served as an urban oasis, gathering generations of people together to enjoy the natural world. It is cherished in hearts and minds as a critical community asset. As such, the prospect of any change at the Zoo is met with equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm. Our first task, then, was to gather input and feedback from various Zoo constituents to ensure key voices were being heard and considered, facilitating stakeholder alignment and buy-in throughout the process.

We began with internal stakeholder interviews and collected countless stories about the value of the Zoo to children and their families. We were inspired by the stories of kids making connections with animals, feeling empowered by knowledge, understanding ecosystems, and taking action as young philanthropists.

In addition, we conducted a competitive audit of zoos from around the world. Not surprisingly, we found that the nature-scene silhouette featured in Woodland Park Zoo’s logo was overwhelmingly pervasive. This confirmed that it was time to rethink and refresh so as to differentiate the Zoo from other organizations in their space–both locally and internationally.

Through our extensive discovery process, we identified key benefits Woodland Park Zoo provides its visitors:

  • Exploration and discovery
  • Feeling of connection to animals and the natural world
  • Inspiration to act as a more responsible global citizen
  • A transportive experience of somewhere else in the world
“The experience transports you somewhere else. Somewhere you may never go otherwise.”

Identity Development

Guided by our discovery findings, we embarked on an extensive identity exploration. We found that many zoo identities nationally and internationally fall within several frequently used design approaches. These include brand identities with:

  • Iconic animals, especially giraffes, elephants, and big cats
  • Hand-drawn type, especially for “Zoo”
  • Animal images inserted into the letter forms of the logotype
  • Unsophisticated, overly playful illustrations

To differentiate Woodland Park Zoo, we avoided these design approaches and focused more on typographic solutions, non-animal iconography directions, and allusions to animal imagery.

The final logo is both fun and sophisticated, featuring an abstract zebra-stripe element to reflect the Zoo’s beloved inhabitants. Its clean lines and simple but striking color palette make the logo versatile enough to be impactful on its own, but not overpowering in co-branding scenarios with scientific and conservation entities such as The Nature Conservancy, National Geographic and Surfrider Foundation.

To support the Zoo’s internal team with ongoing marketing initiatives, we created a robust brand guidelines document to define brand elements and codify their usage across multiple media channels.

Capital Campaign

With the new identity in place, we began work on the capital campaign. We created a messaging strategy that would connect visitors to the animals and their environments, and articulate why we need the Zoo–as individuals and as a local and global community. We developed a campaign tagline of “More wonder, more wild,” around which a suite of integrated materials was centered.


Today, Woodland Park Zoo is thriving as an internationally respected conservation and education leader, enjoying increased attendance, strong recruiting efforts, and a solid donor base. The capital campaign was a major success, with the Zoo reaching its goal of $80 million. And the successful brand evolution will continue to support the Zoo’s impact and ability to engage communities in valuing and protecting wildlife well into the future.