ZSL looks to move out of the shadow of London Zoo with new brand image

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has updated its brand image and proposition as it looks to shift focus away from its most famous brand, London Zoo, and onto its work as a conservation charity.

The change includes a new strapline – Let’s Work for Wildlife – that it hopes reflects its mission to “promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats”. Created by agency The Chase, the aim is to drive awareness of the ZSL master brand and its work in conservation and scientific research.

The new logo will be introduced in the UK from today (9 June) before being rolled out globally. It will be used across all marketing communications.

Speaking to Marketing Week, ZSL’s marketing director Rich Storton admitted the charity suffered from a lack of understanding about the work it does.

“We had branding that didn’t live up to what we needed it to do. ‘Living conservation’ was an old, archaic proposition – people didn’t understand what it meant, it was too clever. Our new proposition clearly states we are involved in animal conservation around the world,” he said.

“London Zoo overshadowed everything in terms of brand awareness and recollection. That is a strength but we need to build awareness of ZSL as an international animal conservation charity.”

The aim is to achieve an “international profile” for the charity. Storton said while ZSL is in the top 100 charities in terms of awareness that is low given the size of the organisation and how much money it raises every year.

The charity wants to be in the top 20. It will do that by being “more cut-throat” and making sure ZSL gets the credit for the conservation work it does.

“In terms of the support we offer and work we do across the world and the resource ZSL puts into conservation – we don’t get due credit for that,” explained Storton.

Using content to build stories

While the shift in brand image is about garnering more support in terms of donations and volunteering, ZSL also hopes it can get people more engaged in animal conservation and help to shift consumer behaviour – for example in getting people to use fewer plastic bags.

It will do that by “building stories” about the brand and the work it does to bring its work to life and project a more emotive and inspirational brand message, said Storton. It has also hired its first ZSL brand manager Bonnie Marsden, who joined the charity from the BBC last year, to spearhead the campaign.

“That is an indication of how as an organisatin we realise we need to invest in the brand to grow awareness and support. Until now we have been driven by the two zoos [London and Whipsnade] but our marketing strategy is changing to focus on the ZSL brand, which has played second fiddle. London Zoo won’t be forgotten but our brand architecture will be about building the master brand,” he added.

ZSL also hopes the focus on its brand will help it leverage partnerships with other brands. London Zoo launched a push a number of years ago but Storton said feedback found that brands felt ZSL didn’t have a strong enough identity or awareness.

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