The origins of San Diego Zoo date back to 1915 when, as legend has it, founder Dr Harry Wegeforth drove past an animal menagerie abandoned after the Panama-California Exposition and heard the roar of a lion named Rex.
Today, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park are two of the largest zoos in the world, and Rex the lion lives on in the form of the Rex’s Roar statue that greets visitors at its entrance.
Together, the zoo and safari park are home to more than 15,000 rare and endangered animals, are part of a non-profit conservation organisation that is committed to saving species worldwide, and boast one of the largest zoological membership associations in the world, with more than half a million members.
Last updated over a decade ago, the zoo’s previous identity treated its non-profit arm San Diego Zoo Global, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as separate brands with their own visual systems.
Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team were briefed to create a new brand identity that could connect with the broadest audience possible – from the families who visit and support the zoo and safari park to the scientific community who contribute to its research.
Creating a new name for the zoo was the first step in a two-year collaboration between Pentagram and the parent organisation, which has been rebranded as the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA).
Needing a more cohesive brand architecture to sit alongside the renamed organisation, Bierut created a new logo that looks to represent its century-long conservation efforts.
The reimagined mark brings together three animals that are important to the history of the SDZWA: Rex the lion; a California condor, a species brought back from the brink of extinction in a signature achievement by the organisation; and a white rhino, which is currently undergoing one of most successful managed breeding programmes in the world.
Combined as part of one singular circular mark, the three individual animal images play with positive and negative space as a nod to the interdependence of all living things on the planet.
Continuing with this theme, the use of positive-negative space hints at the ongoing threat of extinction in a series of Saving Species Worldwide posters, which feature animal illustrations in silhouette.
The logo is paired with typography set in GT Classic, a new font designed by Grilli Type, with letterforms that feature animalistic qualities such as swooping tails and sharp spurs.
The identity also extends to a system of sub-brands for the various components of the organisation, which are further differentiated by an animal-themed colour palette. This includes Habitat Green for the main alliance brand, along with Bumblebee Yellow, Macaw Red and Elephant Gray.