Jun '24

Gorilla marketing: effective comms strategies for wildlife conservation and zoos

Tom Bradley in Marketing & Content

Gorilla marketing

In the world of conservation, effective marketing is crucial to achieving goals like raising awareness, driving fundraising and encouraging behavioural change.

In this article we’ll explore how branding, marketing and experience-design can significantly impact on the success of your campaigns and will offer you practical strategies to maximising the impact of your efforts.

Define the Goal

Establishing a consistent vision and powerful mission statement is important for maintaining a distinct purpose for your materials. Without this clear objective, it’s easy for mixed messages or tangents to enter the equation and the overall goal and eventual call-to-action become diluted.

This goal can of course be either organisation-wide or campaign-specific, so long as it provides a unified direction and purpose for your comms.

RSPB Save Our Seabird campaign visual
Image: A clear mission statement from our creative awareness campaign for the RSPB

There are a number of potential objectives for a typical conservation campaign, these can include:


The goal could be simply spreading knowledge about conservation issues, the challenges faced and the potential solutions to the problem. Campaigns of this nature could focus on informing your audience about the importance of biodiversity, the threats faced by wildlife and the actions needed to protect it.


In some instances, there’s a clear monetary target for the campaign and the success of the project hinges on effective communication of the problem, the possible solutions and how your audience can make a difference to your cause. Using compelling narratives and visuals to show the direct impact of donations and memberships can help to convert your audience from innocent bystander into a fully engaged activist!

Behavioural Change

Campaigns of this kind aim to influence public behaviour to support your conservation goals. This might include reducing plastic use or supporting sustainable practices for example. Clear messaging, engaging infographics and simple, practical tips are important for guiding these sorts of lifestyle changes.

It’s likely that your campaign might want to include a combination of different types of goal. In this case, you’ll need to consider the structure of your content carefully so as to provide a seamless flow from awareness to action whilst avoiding competing calls-to-action where possible.

RSPB charity seabird protection marketing exhibition display design by Root Studio
Image: For this campaign, three practical (and memorable) behavioural changes were identified to help achieve the goal. These three messages were repeated consistently on all campaign materials.

Know Your Community

As with any marketing campaign in any sector, understanding your audience is key. We’ve broken down a number of topics that you should ideally understand prior to creating your marketing content: 

Assessing your audience’s knowledge base

By understanding what your audience already knows and identifying any gaps or misconceptions you can tailor your messaging to address these gaps and provide accurate and engaging information without covering old ground (or making the wrong assumptions).

Accessibility & language

Consider your audience, be it professional, adult, family-friendly or focused on younger audiences, to assess how the language of your content should be positioned. Also consider the potential reading ages to ensure that it’s as accessible as possible.


Where possible, align your messaging with the values and beliefs of your audience. By emphasising your shared goals you can establish common ground and foster a sense of community and belonging around conservation efforts.

Don’t Blame, Explain

Frame issues in a way that invites collaboration rather than assigning blame to the reader or any particular community. Explain the solutions that can be achieved together and encourage a collaborative and co-operative approach to problem-solving.

Optimising your content

The art of producing a campaign that has meaningful and memorable content requires a delicate balance of the facts, figures and engaging storytelling.


Engage your audience with compelling stories that highlight the challenges and successes in conservation. Think of your cause like it’s a book - first establish a hero (this might be an animal, a habitat, the planet as a whole etc.) and a villain (the act that will cause your hero harm). This can then help you to explain the narrative or journey in a more engaging and interesting manner and captivate the imagination of your audience. Case studies and anecdotes can also really add to make a story feel ‘real’. 

Wildheart Animal Sanctuary zoo tiger interpretation design by Root Studio
Image: Interpretation explaining the process of rescuing circus performing big cats. This panel for Wildheart Animal Sanctuary literally explained the rescue journey step by step.


Structure your content to answer the essential questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. This comprehensive approach ensures that all critical aspects are covered and really helps to set the scene before heading into the story.

Visual Engagement

Incorporate infographics, illustrations, videos and animations to make complex information more accessible and engaging. Visual content can significantly enhance audience understanding and help them to retain information more easily.

Materials for Children & School Groups

Develop educational materials specifically designed for younger audiences. Interactive and fun content can inspire the next generation of conservationists. In the past we’ve created all sorts of materials for school children from illustrated activity sheets, puzzles and quizzes to explorer backpacks filled with tools and activities. Remember that the best school trips can stick in your memory for years to come so it’s a real opportunity to impact on young minds and our collective future.

Chester Zoo save our songbirds illustrated childrens book design by Root Studio
Image: A storybook aimed at indonesian school children to help them see the issues of capturing wild songbirds. This was part of a wider campaign for Chester Zoo.

Problems, Solutions & Results

Clearly outlining the issues and your proposed solutions to those problems will help your audience understand what can be done and potentially how they can actively get involved. Showcasing any tangible results of those solutions can also help to build trust and credibility to your argument.

Collaborate with Ambassadors

Partner with relevant organisations and even celebrities to amplify your message. These external ambassadors can broaden your reach and lend credibility to your cause.

It's all in the delivery

Today, the delivery of your message could be made in a number of different ways from interpretation signage to classroom activities, social media and website content, email marketing to direct mail. 

Each method has its own advantages and it’s important to consider the experience of your audience in each case. 


Ensure consistent and recognisable branding across all channels and materials - this doesn’t just relate to your logo but the branding of the campaign as a whole. If your audience picks up one of your leaflets - does it match the social campaign? Does it match the landing page on your website? Does it match the signage on location? 

A strong, cohesive brand helps your audience to understand the connection and allows your campaign to build up layer upon layer rather than competing against itself.


Enhance the visitor experience with immersive set dressing and engaging interpretation. Interactive displays and storytelling can make visits more memorable and educational. 

Within these spaces, create opportunities for physical and mental engagement. Interactive exhibits, quizzes and hands-on activities can deepen understanding and create stronger memories than could be achieved through text and image content alone.

Taking the message home

For some campaigns you can even find a way to provide a practical tool, guide or keepsake for your audience to take home or take to work with them and keep the message flowing and repeating over and over again.

Rodent detector flyer design by Root Studio
Image: A take-home, toxin free rodent detector to allow boat-owners to identify whether they have any stowaway rodents of their own. This re-enforces one of the key concerns of the campaign in a practical, hands-on manner.

Inspiring Action

Remember that goal you identified at the start of this process? It’s time to realise that dream! Let’s deliver that main call-to-action (CTA).

Encouraging your audience to take specific steps such as donating, volunteering or sharing information is vital to the success of your campaign.

Fundraising & Memberships

Provide clear and easy ways for people to support the cause or become a long term member of your organisation. Highlighting the potential impact of their contributions can also help to further motivate their action.

Wildheart Animal Sanctuary zoo adopt a Lynx sign design by Root Studio
Image: A clear CTA for the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary encouraging visitors to Adopt a Lynx.

Get Involved

If your target is to recruit a new batch of activists then highlight the volunteer opportunities that are available and/or identify the ways in which people can participate in conservation activities, both in the community and at home. Engaging people in simple, hands-on activities can strengthen their commitment to your cause.

Wetlands wildlife activity sheet for kids
Image: A take-home leaflet for school children visiting any of the WWT sites across the UK. This leaflet encourages children to build their own mini wetland habitat at home.


A solid marketing strategy plays a crucial role in achieving conservation goals and amplifying your voice.

By following these strategies, you can enhance your marketing efforts, engage with your communities and achieve your goals more effectively.

If you need support with a current or future campaign then get in touch, our experienced team would love to get on board!

Thanks for reading

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