Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

Minnesota Zoo logo sketches

The Minnesota Zoo logo combines an ‘M’ with a Minnesota moose. It was part of the zoo’s wayfinding system of typography, symbols, and signs, cited in the design section of TIME magazine as one of the best of 1981.

Minnesota Zoo logo sketches

Minnesota Zoo logo sketches

Minnesota Zoo logo sketches

Minnesota Zoo logo

Minnesota Zoo logo

Minnesota Zoo logo

Minnesota Zoo logo

Minnesota Zoo logo

Minnesota Zoo logo

Minnesota Zoo logo

Client: Minnesota Zoo
Designed in 1981 by: Lance Wyman

Sadly, it looks like this one’s no longer in use. Here’s the current design…

Minnesota Zoo logo

If you know who created it, please let me know so I can offer credit.

Update:
The current logo was apparently co-designed by Zubasti Interactive (thanks @headedforhades).

In related news, there’s a free-to-enter Lance Wyman exhibition at Norwich University College of the Arts until June 9th.

Images via GRAPHIC AMBIENT.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

40 appreciated comments

  1. Wow when I first saw this post I thought it was a ‘latest news’ piece, the work, for me, really stands up especially those lovely numbers, they look fantastic set at that size on the way-finder. The current design is really dull and generic.

  2. Roy S

    Ohhh, the “M” logo is lovely and cute, I would’ve preferred a re-lifting not a total make-over.
    I still think the old one is much more stronger.
    “Changing how you see the world” not sure if they meant a better world.

  3. Vanio Ivanov

    The logo and typography from 1981 really are great.
    They have style, personality and spirit.
    The new logo is disappointing.

  4. iain

    Kids like tigers more than mooses, I guess. The numerals are wonderfully playful and seem much stronger than the M/moose.

  5. TM

    Really wonderful work, love the big moose sign.

  6. Lara T

    A big disappointment with the new logo! It does look nice on the eye, but it’s too detailed and clichéd compared with the old logo. A good logo is one that works out in any size and in any medium, and the old logo definitely met those points! The implementation on the numbers is just awe inspiring and promotes one big WOW! But again, too bad it’s not used anymore. :(

  7. thanks for sharing the creative process. I do like the old logo but love the revamp of it too. The old logo was nice but could likely have been a logo for any zoo; this one is unique to Minnesota and I feel has more meaning (and fun) I adore the numbers… thanks for sharing.

  8. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  9. Awesome work. What a tragedy the new design is.

  10. Lance Wyman made a great logo, but he should have picked a more inspiring animal for the main logo. No disrespect to my Canadian roots, but a moose isnt the first thing I head for when I get to the zoo. Tiger always wins in the end! let’s hope they don’t go extinct. Great post and very inspiring marks.

  11. wilsonality

    WHAT!

    They went from the awesome one to this bland leaf winky thing?

    UGH

    what is becoming of this world…

  12. Timeless design. Unfortunately it was ruined by non-creative people making “creative” decisions, but that 1981 logo looks like it’d fit right in on logopond amongst the current plethora of logos, never mind that it’s over 30 years old!

  13. Man, seeing that old moose takes me back to childhood. I live 20 minutes from that zoo and I haven’t been back there since ’87.

  14. The new design, the letter “M” with moose icon is just lovely. Simple, memorable, stands out.

    The old tiger one was like from a clip art book and honestly I wouldn’t even remember such busy icon with tiger’s head and a branch. The letter M is excellent branding element and everywhere you’ll see “M with moose” you know it’s the Minnesota Zoo.

    Great design work whoever did that new logo

  15. @Alexandra the “new logo” you refer to is actually the Zoo’s old logo from 1981 and I agree it’s excellent. The new logo is the crap with the tiger, leaf, and generic font. ;)

  16. Niqui

    The original logo is the kind of design I aspire to. Strong, clever, clean and the supporting typographical wayfinding system was just lovely. This suite of design was timeless! I can’t help but feel this was change for change’s sake and, as mentioned in numerous other posts, the new logo is disappointing, generic and too complicated to float my boat : (

  17. Peter

    Oh man! I remember that logo so strongly. I went to the Zoo as a 10 year old when it first opened.

    Those numbers stuck with me so profoundly. That M. Everything about it was perfect. It’s sad that we can become so tired of great things that we feel the need to replace them. Especially when we replace them with dreck.

    Here’s to reintroducing the great old font!

  18. Sometimes people feel the need to “modernize” a brand / image / logo, which makes sense in many cases. Not all “rebranding” will be successful. In this case, the new one leaves much more to be desired.

  19. Evan

    I would have visited the zoo just for the design before, I cannot believe that they would change something that was so perfect.

  20. The old logo looked fantastic.

  21. Such a shame it had to change, the initial logo is timeless, it wasn’t until I saw the old photos that I realised it wasn’t their latest logo. It’s got character, fun and simplicity. I really like how it followed through to the signage too. The latest logo is also very good but having seen the old one, I warm to this one more and have a better connection with it.

  22. Paul

    I can’t tell you how depressed and sad this makes me…I think the original logo and system is brilliant.

  23. I wonder what prompted the zoo to think it needed a change – what information was included in the creative brief?

  24. cherie

    I agree that the first logo is just amazing… and the new one is so unmemorable. I would really like to know why they decided to do this. Too bad the brief isn’t included.

  25. Lisa

    I love the old design. They should bring it back. It still seems relevant and effective today.

  26. Jon

    Another vote for the old design – simple and fun.

  27. McE

    Wait – the tiger is the new one?? Wow, that’s disappointing…

  28. Mike

    WOw, I was scrolling down this post wondering what amazing new agency did this work…. and was pleasantly surprised to see it was from the early 80’s. It’s fantastic!

    Great options in the sketches and they went for the best one. I love that it’s just casually grazing, this fits in well when inside the logotype as well.

    Brilliant. Might have to get along to that exhibition in Norwich

  29. I honestly thought this was a new logo concept and a brilliant one! Can’t believe this design is over 30 years old. Either styles do come back in to fashion or this is (was) simply a masterpeice, really inspiring!!!

    Love it!

  30. Zack McClean

    The new logo is very nice and very well put together, but in terms of the… I don’t know, the personality of it… the old one trumps it. Methinks a refreshing of the old one would’ve ended up yielding a better result than the new concept all together.

  31. Yet another vote for the old logo. There are several sketches from the original branding that are so solid. I agree with cherie–the new one is not nearly as memorable!

  32. Wilson

    It bothers me that companies like to change for change sake. It bothers me more that designers will screw any work of art just so they can make a little money. We’ve lost it over time. We even lost the ability to stand up for what’s good. I guess money talks. Anything for money. Would any designer today respectfully decline to work on a project because he/she wants to preserve the integrity of the work that it’s been changed, thrown out, or flat out redesigned? Today’s designers would repaint the Monalisa for money. I had the honor to study under Mr Lance Wyman, and it’s not because of it that I am saying this, but… the sketches themselves should be on display as a show of the lost artform of real logotype design.

  33. Awesome concept sketches. I really enjoy how simple they had it before the new design.

  34. Todd Sledzik

    This could have been done yesterday. Some times there’s a fine line between what’s timeless and what ends up feeling dated. It’s interesting to really delve into what makes it work.

  35. Paulina

    At first I thought the first one was the new one. It looks modern and timeless. I don’t see the reason to change.

  36. Wow. I thought this old vs new business was a put on. Thought someone did an Instagram on the press release photos.

    The 1981 logo is smashing work and I could easily see that identity being pitched today. New logo is straight from Clipper and a total drag, the Friz Quatrata typography adds insult to injury.

  37. Ed

    Evaluator. Please note that Lance’s splendid system in 1981 included a logo for the zoo’s ski trail. (That opened M-Zoo for many in the winters.) What else? Our good moose on skis, of course.

  38. Ed

    Dear Evaluator. Not for the log please, but for you. I had the the high privelege back then to hire Lance Wyman for the Minnesota Zoo (M Zoo, not T Zoo); as well as for the National Zoo in 1978 for his trail system there and great logo (transposing the traditional heraldic eagle with the profile of mother eagle feeding her chick). Forgive my needless levity. Our Siberians could, and did, watch the skiers gliding by. Alas, I was replaced WAY before Lance Wyman’s wonderful work. Fortunately his work is timeless – if not in its rightful place.

    My friendship with Lance sustains. And that is indeed a privilege.

    Ed Kohn

  39. Alexandra

    Oh duh the 1981 is the letter “m” omg and they traded that symbol for an ugly tiger clip art thingy…..wow these people are seriously lacking creativity and should not even be making decisions like this. Replacing an iconic logo with this crap…..no words. If I lived there I’d stop going to the zoo. :-)

  40. Muhidds

    Love the logo ‘M’. The new logo has no soul. Should revert back to old
    logo.


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