Designing a new Deep Sea World identity

Sep 7 · 6 min read

Deep Sea World is ‘Scotland’s National Aquarium’, owned by a large leisure park company who own multiple aquariums, water parks and zoos around Europe.

[A wee important side note, the staff at Deep Sea World are great at teaching visitors of all ages about the animals and health of our seas, and undertake some very important conservation work inside the aquarium and around Scotland’s coasts. This redesign is not intended to belittle their work, but to reinvent Deep Sea World from a park ran as a business for profit and realise it as a non-profit national aquarium.]

The current target audience is children and adults with young children leading the current identity to use cartoons / illustrations, hand drawn fonts and a focus on events such as hosting children’s birthday parties.

TLDR; I have done the complete opposite of this.

For this identity to appeal across generations and for my idea of Deep Sea World as a non-profit to be taken serious, it was clear the current cartoon illustrative approach had to be changed. The main focus of this work is to use real photographs to inspire children and adults alike. People are innately curious, children more so than anyone, if someone visits the website or sees a poster I want to spark their curiosity and sense of wonder. I want kids to point to a poster and ask their parents “What is this?” if the parent knows, great, if they don’t know then that is even better. The sense of wonder is often lost in todays mass consumption of media, with a lot of design created to be disposable, and consumed on demand. I want my designs to stop people, to make them think. For 2 seconds allow themselves toget lost in their own head before they have to carry on with business.

The shows Our Planet, Blue Planet and Planet Earth already show how great cinematography and photography can reach the public. can encourage this sense of wonder and communicate important environmental messages. The challenge was how to take this precedent and apply it to an aquarium’s identity.


Logo design

First things first, the logo. I wanted to create a logo which looked timeless, something simple and straightforward. A logo to look contemporary but could also have been part of an established non-profit for 40 years. This approach was incredibly important to strive for, well-established and designed logos stand the test of time and inspire trust in consumers. In the case of a national aquarium trust is a huge factor; How do they treat the animals? How are they caring for the environment? Are they teaching us correctly? How are they spending my money?

The current logo features a shark — Deep Sea World houses a large collection of Sand Tiger Sharks — and I didn’t want to completely depart from this. There had to be some cohesion with the new and old designs. I didn’t want to do something different for the sake of it being different, I wanted there to be an evolution. So instead of one shark, I added two!

I wanted a logo which scales better and has use in a variety of applications from advertising, merchandising to staff uniforms. My initial drafts had both sharks the same size but I struggled to make this work without it looking a bit clunky. The difference in size sorted this issue whilst creating a more engaging design, it feels less flat and has more depth. The circle not only represents the world, I also chose it to symbolise how everything is connected in our environment (cue Circle of Life please). ‘Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose’ people. I know these design decisions may feel a little bit on the head to some people, but just because an idea or decision is simple shouldn’t diminish the weight it carries given its context.


Ticket variations

I wanted to do something different for the tickets compared to the common disposable thin paper receipt style tickets. I aimed for the tickets to stoke visitor’s imaginations before they even enter the aquarium. To achieve this the tickets make use of the full colour palette with each colour corresponding to a coral image on its reverse side. The images are slightly abstract and all three ticket types would be distributed at random to ensure groups and families get different versions and can compare. The white bar code is designed to be removed, encouraging the re-purposing or keepsake aspect of the ticket. I thought it was too obvious to put ‘Deep Sea World’ on the ticket. If you are at the aquarium or on the website and buy a ticket, you know where you are going to be. Instead, I kept the logo but changed the copy to read ‘Take a deep breath’, adding a slight to distortion to emulate movement underwater or ripples. The phrasing of the copy symbolises entering an underwater world, diving into what Deep Sea World has to show. It’s a clear reference to physically being underwater whilst providing a bit of fun for visitors.

(Anyone else from Glasgow reading this will appreciate the inspiration for the ticket copy was partly trying to hold your breath whilst driving through the Clyde Tunnel)


Sign poster variations

I pushed the boat out with these posters, I chose to have no copy and rely solely on the images. I was conscious not to overuse distorted text like the tickets to avoid relegating it to a gimmick. I chose to embrace the idea of imagery as the main source for inspiring wonder. In a world full of posters and adverts screaming for attention and trying to out design each other, the lack of copy in these posters aims to introduce some calmness. No copy invites the viewer to interpret the poster as they see it, each viewer having different response and hoping this translates into more visitors exploring and learning at Deep Sea World.

A context shot of a poster


A couple of website screens, check out my Behance to see the full homepage design.

The current website is very busy, there is a lot going on. With a new target audience of multiple generations the new homepage had to be clean, concise and display important information over as easily as possible. I opted to introduce white space and focus on inviting users to visit by prioritising events that are on and introducing event details, opening times and directions. The minimal look embraces the identity’s strategy of strong imagery, allowing these images to speak for themselves. Most importantly, all necessary information for a visit can be found as soon as they visit.


The tote bag is an example of applying the logo and identity in a less conventional way. Using a tote bag to represent this option further promotes core ideas of sustainability, also it looks cool.

That about wraps it up, if you’ve made it this far thanks for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing part of my design process.

I’d really appreciate it if you could take a couple of minutes to appreciate the project on my Behance page, you’ll get to see a few more aspects of this design, and it gives you the opportunity to check out some of my other work.


Written by


Graphic Designer and Illustrator from Glasgow Scotland

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