San Diego Zoo Takes a Walk on the Wild Side


The San Diego Zoo is not only one of the largest and most diverse zoos in the world, it is also a brand. This brand includes not just the zoo, but a Wild Animal Park and an Institute for Conservation Research. The zoo recently realized that it needed to start thinking like the large parent brand that it is, and introduced a visual identity that will reach across all of its diverse endeavors.

The first change is in the logo design of the zoo itself. The old logo design featured a rather unremarkable typeface in crisp, natural shades of sea blue and tropical green. The feeling was slightly exotic, but approachable. However, there was little about this logo that suggested a zoo, much less this zoo in particular. The new logo design features an updated green color and a slightly zany font. The word ‘zoo’ as it is seen in this new logo is seen throughout the location itself as well as advertisements and other printed documents. In short, San Diego Zoo has become the zoo. Whimsical and child-friendly without being overly juvenile, the new font and color scheme strike a perfect balance.

The Wild Animal Park is a part of the zoo (although not on the same premises), but its old logo design was completely different from that of the zoo. A simple black and white text based logo design did little to differentiate the park from other theme parks in the area or to tie it in to the San Diego Zoo brand. This has been corrected with the new logo design. The San Diego Zoo logo is placed in small letters above the new logo. The same font is used, and a pale orangey peach color that coordinates with the green of the parent brand has replaced the monochromatic black and white. The name has also been changed to better represent the type of experience people have at this establishment.

Last, the Institute for Conservation Research has been given a brand that ties into the zoo. While a more serious typeface is used, the color and the rounded oblong in which the writing is placed both relate to the parent brand. This is a more adult translation of the San Diego Zoo logo design and visual brand. It is easy to look at these three logos and see one central identity, something that was not possible before.

How can you tie together a number of different identities under one brand umbrella? This is a situation that many modern companies struggle with. However, this new zoo identity shows that it can be done with great success and even visual beauty. The parent brand being presented here is unique and modern, with ‘child’ brands that tie in either based on font or on color. It is easy to see this organization becoming stronger as a result of these uniting elements and continuing their work on behalf of animals all over the planet.