Rbl rebrands ZSL with ecosystem-inspired identity

The conservation organization’s rebrand is a “journey of recovery” to unite its “innovative, science-based” conservation work and “rich history” through a new logo and graphic system.

Leamington Spa based studio Rbl has repositioned the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to better represent the interconnected strands of their work with a new logo and ecosystem-inspired graphic language.

After being recommended to Rbl ZSL, Rbl won the work through a competitive pitch process. Rbl creative director Adam Concar says the brief was about “solving a problem” and that ZSL was “very open about how they solved it”.

Previous and new ZSL logos

Coinciding with the brand’s 200th anniversary, ZSL also wanted to change its strategy and “benefit more from the brand,” says Concar. Despite rebranding in 2003 and 2015 to achieve this, Concar said that ZSL “created identities for each activity due to a lack of strength behind the main brand”.

ZSL’s new logo aims to bridge the gap between two different aspects of the organization: its “innovative, science-driven” conservation work and its “rich history,” according to Concar. He describes how the S—which features the silhouettes of an eagle, lioness, shark, and banana leaves—represents “a journey of recovery” that reconnects with ZSL’s heritage by bringing elements of the past in a contemporary way.

The studio worked with type designer and type artist Rob Clarke on the final logo design. Concar says “one of the trickier nuts to crack” was making sure the silhouettes had “a high level of craftsmanship” to avoid looking “too iStock.”

The key element of ZSL’s graphic language is the circle, which is used in a variety of ways across brands. Concar says it “symbolizes the entire ecosystem in which the brand operates” as it brings images and patterns to life as a framing element.

Rbl chose Proxima as the brand’s master typeface, a versatile geometric sans typeface designed by Mark Simonson. The typeface helped Rbl build an identity with a “strong core” that ZSL can make “flexible” to suit the different disciplines and audiences they work with, says Concar.

While the “tough, corporate” Proxima Nova is used on the brands’ science and conservation side, Concar says Proxima Soft’s “warm, welcoming” style is more family-friendly and suitable for zoos.

The influence of ecosystems continues in ZSL’s new color palette, as Rbl takes inspiration from nature in a “slightly unusual” way, adds Concar. The new logo is seagrass green because seagrass has the ability to absorb carbon and is vital to marine life. The unconventional green also has the ability to tie the rest of the “vibrant palette” together, Concar explains.

ZSL’s updated website was designed by TPXimpact. Rbl worked with the consultancy early on in the process to ensure the graphical language was seamlessly transferred to the digital touchpoints.

The new identity has been rolled out internally and on ZSL’s website and will be rolled out further over the coming months.

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