Chester Zoo

Early in 2011, our friends at Music in Manchester invited us to get involved in rebranding the UK’s number one zoo.

Their authentically hand–rendered typeface, created with illustrator Adam Hayes, is a joyous thing. It sprouts fangs and tails and paws all over the place, managing a tricky balance between riotous playfulness and clear legibility.

What they needed from us was a voice that lived up to all the verve and delight of that visual identity, and captured the palpable energy and enthusiasm of the Zoo’s people.

And it was enormous fun getting there. After all, how many briefing meetings involve watching a spectacled bear snuffling out his lunch?

The Zoo team took the issue of language admirably seriously. They invited us up to Chester to discuss the new tone with everyone from the PR team to research scientists.

We even gave a ‘copywriting masterclass’. (The client’s word, not ours.) As always, helping a client get to practical grips with a new voice, rather than simply handing over a set of guidelines, proved welcome and valuable.

The results were impressive: 2012 was a record one for the Zoo, with 1.4 million visitors. And their millionth visitor turned up in August – the earliest for 80 years. Membership grew, too – by the biggest year-on-year margin for a decade.

Since working on the new identity, we’ve done several other projects with the Zoo, including the website, the visitors’ map, scripts for the recorded guide on the monorail, and all the copy for the new Zoo store — from great big signage on the walls to every little product label.

As part of the project, we extended the branding principles to cover Act for Wildlife, the Zoo’s campaigning charity, which champions and supports conservation around the world.

There’s a bit more about the project over on the Creative Review blog.

Chester Zoo
Adam Hayes
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