Nicole

Nov 19, 2021

5 min read

The significance of Mandai Wildlife Group’s latest rebrand

The power of design and its ability to bring about positive change

A billboard with a giraffe popping up with the text “Hello, Humans”
Anak, Billboard

About a month ago on the 13th of October, Mandai Wildlife Reserve unveiled their new rebranding project into Mandai Wildlife Group by Singapore-based design studio Anak.

With it being the only zoo located in Singapore, it comes with no surprise that many of us have visited the wildlife park once or even several times before. Running for 48 years straight, the advent of their transformation came at the aptest timing as the zoo was in need of a fresh new look. It needed something that could spark excitement and generate buzz about our beloved local attraction again. Their new tagline “Come to Life” also hits the spot in strengthening the brand, especially after our inactivity and lack of action from being confined to our four walls for the past two years.

Anak, Rebrand of Mandai Wildlife Group

Hailed as one of the best zoos in the world, Mandai was the pioneer in adopting the open zoo concept.¹ This meant doing away with any form of barred metal cages or unnatural spaces that harmed these voiceless animals and replacing them with friendlier elements such as hedges of moats. Taking inspiration from that idea of openness and Mandai’s tropicality, this latest rebranding brings their audience closer to nature while highlighting the key issues of conservation.² Their aim of placing animals and humans on equal ground was shown through their various collaterals, putting higher importance on conservation and the protection of animals. More than just beautifully illustrated logos and dazzling posters, they have created a user experience that positively impacts every visit to the zoo.

Anak, Park Wayfinding

There is no doubt that design can affect the way we navigate through a space, whether physically or digitally, or change our perceptions about certain topics. Anak’s creative process ensured that every decision they made, from the slightest curves in their new typeface to their impactful tone of voice would evoke the feeling of warmth and wonder in their audience. As a design student who is highly concerned about wildlife and biodiversity, this project sparked my interest and hopes that we could use design in such meticulous ways to show care for these animals.

Perhaps it's through the depiction of animals walking alongside you, or through the close-ups of their friendly faces plastered on Instagram posts and podcast covers that you can feel as though you are among them, slowly blending into the surrounding nature. Despite being a 3-dimensional outdoor space, several of their collaterals displayed in their design playbook for biodiversity are of digital materials and moving images. Especially since entering the digital era, it is becoming more necessary for brands to put enough or equal emphasis and thought into both the physical and digital outcomes of a project.

A personal favourite aspect of this project is the details that were embedded into the illustrations and typography. Working closely with a Bali-based illustrator Stevie Anderson, they developed an extensive library of over 800 individual assets, showcasing the unique flora and fauna of Mandai.³ It is that sort of personal touch that invigorates the various parks and keeps each piece of work original. As for their new custom typeface, they collaborated with award-winning international type foundry Colophon to create Mandai Value Serif, a modified version of Value Serif.⁴ With a wide range of target audiences, this contemporary typeface is functional to the public while incorporating a sense of classiness that is fitting for an institution of Mandai’s calibre.

Anak, Custom typography

The wildlife reserves of Mandai are particularly special places where many of us have great memories. I remember the first time I saw a penguin at the zoo and the time a parrot sang me a birthday song at Jurong Bird Park. As I grew older, I seemed to have forgotten the magic and joy that they brought and gradually outgrew the parks. I believe this could be the case for many of us which is why this redesign was so necessary to revive the parks again.

This project was revealed after long four years of effort. More than just a brand redesign, they have set out to change our perspectives of conservation. Although technology has its benefits, it has also created its own set of problems for these animals. The increase in exposure to media and news sites have led to the desensitization toward animal endangerment. For the longest time, the topic has felt unachievable and too far away from us. However, by using compelling and light-hearted visuals, they bring the issue into the spotlight again.

By using design to make conservation feel more possible and accessible, this approach has allowed us to feel more empowered to take action for biodiversity.

[1]: Roots.sg. Lions at the Singapore Zoo https://www.roots.gov.sg/Collection-Landing/listing/1081586

[2]: Kim Shaw (October 29 2021). The Secret Little Agency’s Design Arm Anak Creates New Mandai Wildlife Group Rebrand https://campaignbriefasia.com/2021/10/29/the-secret-little-agencys-design-arm-anak-creates-new-mandai-wildlife-group-rebrand/

[3]: Branding.news (October 25 2021). Anak Design Agency Captures Mandai’s Fascinating Biodiversity https://www.branding.news/2021/10/25/anak-design-agency-captures-mandais-fascinating-biodiversity/

[4]: Henry Wong (October 28 2021). This wildlife group rebrand aims to put animals and people on an equal footing https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/25-31-october-2021/singapore-zoo-rebrand/