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Zoo roars into new era with name, logo change

ZooTampa at Lowry Park officials went big and bold with marketing changes.

  • By Brian Hartz
  • | 6:00 a.m. June 7, 2019
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
The ZooTampa at Lowry Park brand is the work of Ybor City agency ChappellRoberts. Courtesy photo.
The ZooTampa at Lowry Park brand is the work of Ybor City agency ChappellRoberts. Courtesy photo.
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Organization: ChappellRoberts. With clientele ranging from the Dali Museum and Three Daughters Brewing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ChappellRoberts is one of the most prominent advertising and public relations agencies in the Tampa Bay region. The firm prides itself, says senior account executive Katy Parsons, on creating positive change that produce measurable business results. “We don’t just create beautiful things,” she says. “We develop tangible assets that deliver value.”

Mark Wemple. Katy Parsons and Curtis Elliott worked on the ZooTampa at Lowry Park rebranding campaign.
Mark Wemple. Katy Parsons and Curtis Elliott worked on the ZooTampa at Lowry Park rebranding campaign.

Client: ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Formerly known as Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, the nonprofit institution is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society of Tampa Inc., a public-private partnership established in 1982, though the zoo’s origins date back to the 1930s. Today, the 56-acre facility houses some 1,300 animals and attracts more than one million annual visitors.

Task: The zoo had already been a ChappellRoberts client for several years when, in early 2017, officials came to the agency with a huge ask: Give us a new name and a new logo. Zoo CEO Joe Couceiro, who hails from a marketing background with SeaWorld, felt the shape and earthy colors of the logo did not lend themselves well to outdoor advertising. He also believed the name needed to emphasize Tampa over Lowry Park to broaden its appeal.

“Lowry Park doesn’t have much context for many people,” says ChappellRoberts Senior Art Director Curtis Elliott, a member of the creative team that rebranded the zoo. “If you’re a local and you grew up here, you have the connection, but with newer generations and a lot of transplants, there’s not really a connection. We made a conscious effort to simplify the name.”

Couceiro says the project budget was relatively modest, costing the zoo between $20,000 and $40,000. Then it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising and promotional material that featured the new name and logo. 

Challenges: The zoo wanted to roll out the new name and logo in early 2018, which gave ChappellRoberts only about six months to create and test its work. Plus, the zoo had a marketing committee charged with reviewing and approving proposed changes. The potential for slowdowns in the process was huge, given that bottleneck. But the ChappellRoberts team credits Couceiro — who oversaw the installation of a new water-ride attraction, Roaring Springs, in addition to many infrastructure and cosmetic improvements — with laying the groundwork for the major brand overhaul.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park CEO Joe Couceiro. Courtesy photo.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park CEO Joe Couceiro. Courtesy photo.

“Logos and artwork in general can be incredibly subjective,” Parsons says. “Luckily, we had a really collaborative process with the client, who involved leadership to build consensus. Every step of the process involved a point of collaboration with the client, with the marketing committee and with others who provided perspective, as well.”

That last point is key, Parsons says. “To truly capture a brand essence, you have to get perspective from both inside and outside the organization.”

Campaign highlights: The new logo emphasizes bright blue, green and yellow hues that are more evocative of Florida’s natural coastal environment than the muted earth tones of the previous mark. ChappellRoberts also made a conscious decision to make “ZooTampa” one word instead of two in a bid to make it sound catchier and exciting — “almost like a verb,” Elliott says. In addition, the brand makeover strategy stipulated that action shots of animals appear in any signage or advertisements.

Outcome: ZooTampa at Lowry Park debuted its refreshed name and logo in March 2018, along with a clever new slogan, “Zoo Beginnings,” that also coincided with the birth of many baby animals at the zoo — a springtime ritual that’s always good for marketing. “What a great symbiotic relationship,” Parsons says. “A lot of rebirth at the zoo, but also the literal rebirth of the brand.”

The new look has also been a launch pad for subsequent ChappellRoberts campaigns for the zoo that are geared toward selling more family passes and annual memberships. "Most importantly," says Couceiro, "it gave us a chance to talk about what's new, to talk about ourselves and point to things that we had already done." 


Read all of the Business Observer's 2019 marketing issue articles: 

Marketing executives helped build brand behind innovative health care tech company

St. Pete firm rebrands iconic beer company's new line

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