Wildlife Conservation Society

Brand Identity, Digital Design

Identity for the leading organization that manages conservation programs around the globe.

The Wildlife Conservation Society manages the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park, Queens Zoo, New York Aquarium and conservation programs in nearly 60 nations. The organization harnesses the power of its zoological parks, conservation programs and partnerships around the globe to save wildlife on land and sea. Pentagram has created a new identity for the organization that advances its position as a global leader in wildlife conservation and acknowledges its broad and diverse audience. The branding is built around a friendly and accessible mark that is designed to appeal to everyone from park visitors to policy makers.

WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, encompasses a remarkably broad range of activities and audiences. The organization sought a new identity as part of its strategic plan unveiled on October 7, 2015. The plan’s goal is to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 15 priority regions. These areas are home to 50 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and to some 300 million people who are among the world’s poorest, most isolated from markets, and directly dependent on natural resources. The identity was designed to powerfully communicate this mission and to help WCS build a wildlife movement around the globe.

At the same time, the branding had to incorporate the parks, which are visited by 4 million people annually and are an important part of what WCS is all about: Many children have their first experience with wildlife at the zoos, setting them on a lifelong course of caring about animals.

The designers worked closely with WCS leadership to develop the program. They first helped the organization refine its brand strategy with a simple statement that connects all of its initiatives with a memorable tagline: “We stand for wildlife.” The new identity visualizes this promise with a stylized “W.” Made of simple geometry, the mark can project a wide range of expressions, from serious to lively, and has a built-in flexibility that reflects the idea of biodiversity.

The mark can appear in linear form or contain different colors and images of animals. The graphic structure suggests the balance of species and systems that make up the natural world. At the same time, the overlapping shapes convey the comprehensive scope of WCS and have a dimensional depth that hints at the physical places where the organization works (mountains, oceans). The full-color version of the symbol appears in five shades of green and blue that reference the land, skies and seas where animals live.

Color is an essential element of the system, used to playfully echo the animals and environments. By applying tints, a two-color version of the symbol can give the appearance of a five-color combination, creating a modern, vibrant pattern. Different colors can also be used to represent the various parks and programs.

The symbol is accompanied by the organization’s full name or the acronym “WCS.” The vertical acronym version fits into a perfect square, so it can be easily used as a social media icon. The system will be integrated into the graphics for the different parks and programs, where the mark appears alongside the zoo name, putting the organization on equal footing with its well known components. Typography is set in Futura.

The designers also developed comprehensive brand guidelines that will help WCS speak with a cohesive voice across all applications, from park signage and merchandising to promotional campaigns and field reports. The organization’s new website, created by Viget, projects the identity at a global scale.

The identity works well at different scales, and will be used as an endorser in conjunction with the identities of other organizations who share the WCS mission. With time, the identity will increasingly be recognized as a symbol of the broader cause of wildlife conservation.

New York
Michael Bierut
Project team
Jesse Reed
Julia Lindpainter
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