We drove for an hour from Dubai to the outskirts of Abu Dhabi in search of Emirates Park Zoo Resort, which we found thanks to Waze, as there were few road signs leading the way. As we turned into the carpark—a flurry of cars, taxis and buses trying to navigate through the makeshift barriers—I felt a lump in my throat. I had dragged our family of seven to the Zoo for a weekend and first impressions were mediocre.
But as we walked into the hotel and surveyed the zoo compounds, the bright signs, playful images and quirky texts allayed my fears. Most certainly, good design calms nerves. Obviously I spent my first few Wi-Fi minutes reading up about the Emirates Park Zoo brand and was pleasantly surprised to see it was the work of esteemed designer, Peter Gould.
While the Zoo is still undergoing noticeable changes, it was refreshing to see the new brand unveiled in 2016 being strategically programmed across the premises. There's certainly plenty of room for the brand to be fully integrated but the brand refresh allowed the Zoo to tackle its expansive layout practically.
The brand was implemented throughout vis-a-vis simple upgrades across the various exhibits and hotel rooms; large vinyls plastered at main entrances; directional masts around the park; bright, bold entrance tickets; leather embossed tissue-box holders and creative infographics at select animal enclosures.
The choice of bright colours and fun typography makes the Zoo especially welcoming to children and almost instantly communicates the Zoo's playful demeanour, encouraging adults to unleash their inner child too. The new brand certainly helps build community, and pointedly clarifies the brand and its vision as a premier wildlife destination suited for families.
It was strikingly clear that the rebrand was not just an improvement of the logo and collateral, rather, the backbone of the whole identity as it is rolled out in phases.
And while we're talking about destination rebranding, here's a roundup of some of our favourite projects involving branding outdoor spaces: