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Lincoln Park Zoo


I’ve been through 4 different processes with 4 different agencies over my years here. Tronvig’s is the only one that worked.

Peggy Martin, Senior Director of Design and Communications, Lincoln Park Zoo



Before: Lincoln Park Zoo is a beloved free urban zoo that was communicating about itself only at a superficial level that ignored the depth of its offer. They were using beautifully executed marketing material featuring animals and exhibits with no reference to their significant role as leaders in animal care, science, and education. This is a beautifully produced advertisement using clever language. It is easy to understand how it was created and approved.

After: Setting the stage for the zoo’s rebrand, Tronvig’s strategic intervention gave the organizational leadership a new rubric (the Brand Pyramid) that was easy to use and made clear what was on strategy and thus more likely to be effective based on the customer research that was also conducted as part of this project. The rubric was successfully applied not only to advertising but also to exhibition strategy and selection as well as public programs.


Among several insights that emerged within our Discovery Workshop, one was that organizational leadership was overly focused on attendance, obscuring a more nuanced view of engagement. With millions of visitors already, the strategic focus shifted to making sure that those who did visit came away with a fuller understanding of the mission and thus a stronger inclination to support the zoo and the cause of animal welfare.

Discovery: Brand Pyramid

Our Discovery Workshop was able to establish a Brand Pyramid that truly speaks to who they are and why they matter. It culminated in the Brand Idea, "More than a zoo." We then used the Brand Pyramid as a rubric for a range of tactical applications.

5. Brand Idea
More than a zoo.

4. Core Values

  • Visionary
  • Expert
  • Welcoming
  • Ethical
  • Fun

3. Why should I care? (Emotional drivers)

I feel …

  • good about LPZ’s conservation efforts
  • that my life is enriched
  • like I want to become a better global citizen
  • that I’m sharing an experience with loved ones
  • that LPZ is a leader/setting an example
  • like LPZ is “everyone’s zoo”
  • that LPZ is doing more/doing it all
  • inspired to care
  • inspired to improve the world
  • that LPZ is an entertainment destination
  • good about myself
  • empowered
  • like I’m having a personal experience with wild animals

2. How does Lincoln Park Zoo deliver its benefits?

  • Intimate setting for close-up experience with animals
  • Free admission
  • Family time
  • Seeing exotic animals
  • Family time
  • Science education
  • Fun for entire family
  • Easily accessible
  • Learning about conservation
  • Experience nature/the outdoors
  • Excellent programs
  • Seamless ethical experience
  • Respect for animals
  • Innovation in the field

1. What is the Lincoln Park Zoo?
A free, open, accessible urban oasis.

Discovery: Competitive Advantage Diagram

In addition to the Brand Pyramid, we created Competitive Advantage Diagrams for multiple target audiences. This allowed for marketing communications that were both tailored and tightly aligned with the brand strategy.
  1. Place to ride bikes
  2. Doing “kid stuff”
  3. Shopping/kids’ shopping
  4. Quality educational kids’ programs + classes
  5. Some educational value for kids
  6. Seeing wildlife
  7. Place that sparks child’s excitement
  8. Nature Boardwalk
  9. Breakfast place
  10. Exotic animals
  11. Intense educational experience
  12. Children’s zoo
  13. Carousel
  14. Train
  15. Close to home
  16. Free admission
  1. Playground nearby
  2. “Neighborhoody” leisurely lunch place
  3. Avoid crowds
  4. Feeling of contributing to child’s educational success
  5. Access to good public schools
  6. Safe environment
  7. Happy at work
  8. Spouse’s happiness
  9. Time + availability to do family things
  10. Enclosed area where kids can be autonomous
  11. Unique offer of exotic sea animals
  12. Time outside
  13. Beautiful surroundings
  14. Convenient
  15. Dinosaur exhibit
  16. Art
  1. Lots of space
  2. Good for bad weather
  3. Kids’ reading room
  4. Birthday party program
  5. Ongoing kids’ club
  6. Gamification/incentivized events or programs
  7. Asked for donations
  8. Asked about membership
  9. Keeps community safe
  10. Explicitly connect to family holiday tradition
  11. Support conservation and know how/that I help
  12. Relief from boredom

We really got what we wanted and came out of the strategy sessions in a much better place. We would not have
been prepared to kick off a new brand without this core foundational work.

Peggy Martin, Senior Director of Design and Communications, Lincoln Park Zoo


Our example creative work capitalized on each level of the Brand Pyramid (displayed here as a strategic rubric). It sought to emphasize the zoo’s place in the Chicago community, as well as its role as an animal conservation leader and its ability to connect visitors with its mission.


Our work with LPZ extended to the question of why the Black and brown populations of Chicago (70% of the general population) were so poorly represented inside this free zoo. Some of the things we found are more fully articulated in this article (Museums and Race) but in short, it was important for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) to be specifically invited. The de facto invitation of free admission was inadequate. Furthermore, the racial makeup of organizational leadership was a key piece of the puzzle. It is not sufficient to say you intend to be open to BIPoC; some important element of the offer must actually be of, by, and for BIPoC.

Tronvig Credits: Anne Mieth, Art Director and James Heaton, Creative Director

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