Strategy & Consulting

Lessons learned from Diergaarde Blijdorp part 1: purpose-driven approach to a sustainable future

Written by Michael Vromans on 9, Jath 2024

Welcome to the first article in DPDK’s behind-the-scenes series: a collection of articles exploring our collaboration with Blijdorp, their transformative journey, and the key lessons learned from it. Today, we’re discussing the importance of purpose-driven organizations, how Blijdorp transformed from a traditional zoo into a leading force in species conservation and nature restoration, and how this journey sparked the complete revamp of their brand. 

So, take a closer look, be inspired, and join the movement toward a sustainable and socially responsible future. 

Our planet has experienced many shifts and extinctions, but what we face now is far worse and undeniably alarming. The rate at which biodiversity, wildlife, and plant life are being eradicated is unlike anything ever recorded, and human actions are to blame. 

This is an urgent problem that can no longer be ignored; it demands immediate action. Amid this environmental urgency, known as Rotterdam Zoo, Diergaarde Blijdorp, is taking on an exciting new role beyond that of a traditional zoo. 

With a 166-year legacy and the title of the Netherlands' favorite zoo, Blijdorp has entered into a major transformation. One that prioritizes the conservation of our ecosystem and wildlife, promotes education around species preservation and nature restoration, and guides them into a more sustainable future as a purpose-driven organization. 

A movement needs to get started; too little has been happening for too long. Blijdorp wants to make the difference.

- Erik Zevenbergen, CEO of Blijdorp

Why purpose-driven brands are for the win  

In today's competitive landscape, brands with a purpose-driven approach stand out, win hearts, and drive long-term growth. The truth is, that more and more customers are increasingly drawn to brands that are driven by a purpose greater than themselves and refuse to support brands that are untruthful and unethical. That’s the way the world is going. 

Yet, there are many misconceptions I’ve encountered about what being purpose-driven means, and I’m here to set the record straight. Contrary to popular belief, incorporating sustainability into business strategies drives growth and profitability that far outperforms the competition, according to McKinsey.  

A brand's purpose serves as a guiding force that fosters employee and stakeholder connection, provides a moral compass for decision-making, and shapes strategy and innovation. The age of sustainable brands is already here and it's definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. Brands like Tony's Chocolonely, Patagonia, and Dopper prove that profitability and environmental consciousness can coexist. 

The way I see it, with the ethical leadership associated with purpose-driven organizations, their positive reputation attracts both investment and partnerships.

Enter DPDK. 

A wild adventure begins

Blijdorp came to DPDK with the ambition of showcasing the conservationists they are. With a new mission and drive, Blijdorp wanted to show their audience what they had been doing for years - protecting wildlife and fighting for the survival of nature. 

With our passion for innovation and digital excellence spanning over two decades, we’ve been equipped with the right tools to get Blijdorp where they need to be. Through this transformative journey, we’ve created cutting-edge solutions for Blijdorp that bring awareness to their new mission and the state of nature, and create a greater loyal community of environmental conservationists. 

In the spirit of Blijdorp's new motto, “Beleven, Beschermen, Blijdorp”—translating to Experience, Protect, Blijdorp—their unwavering commitment is to secure the future of nature for generations to come. Echoing the profound words of Sir David Attenborough, “No one will protect what they don't care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

An exclusive look into Blijdorp's transformative journey to a sustainable future

Our fresh new guide is out and about! Put together by our CEO, Pim van Helten, and Blijdorp’s CMO, Carolien Ottjes, this guide offers an exclusive look into the transformation of Blijdorp Rotterdam Zoo as a leading force in species conservation and nature restoration. Download now and read all about Blijdorp’s repositioning, digital revolution, and cutting-edge tech innovations.

Blijdorp 2.0 

We began with refreshing Blijdorp's brand identity which has remained largely unchanged for over a decade. During this time, Blijdorp has evolved into a prominent sanctuary, actively engaged in initiatives for species conservation and research around the globe. 

Recognizing the need for revitalization and a new direction in brand strategy, our approach was to bring the brand into today and create a new brand identity that communicates Blijdorp’s commitment to nature restoration and protection.

Nature inspires the visual elements within this rebrand. These design elements feature organic fluid shapes and natural colors representing the sky, oceans, forests, and earth. Our team have harnessed the power of exciting new technology, Adobe Firefly, to create impactful illustrations of species and visuals, which can be seen in the designs of the animals across Blijdorp’s digital touchpoints and within the entire design system

The use of AI extended to photography. The combination of Adobe Photoshop’s AI feature and the creativity of our designers capture wildlife authentically in their habitats. 

The contribution of Adobe Firefly to Blijdorp’s innovative design system exemplifies how powerful generative AI tools can both serve as a source of creative exploration and significantly ease the workload for designers.

- Jay Ganaden, Director, Strategic Development, Pro Design & Firefly at Adobe

At the end of the day, we left no stone unturned and refreshed anything and everything connected to the Blijdorp brand. From brand strategy models and brand identity elements to a whole design ecosystem that connects the brand design system, product design system, illustration design system, and content design system. 

The outcome was a revitalized brand strategy, a refreshed visual identity, and a powerful brand image that established Blijdorp as an industry leader in conservation. But that’s not all we did. Our partnership with Blijdorp doesn't end here, on the contrary, it’s only the beginning. 

Ready for more behind-the-scenes insights into Blijdorp's transformation journey? Discover Blijdorp’s new impactful digital ecosystem here.

Michael Vromans
Chief Creative Officer

Michael Vromans

Chief Creative Officer

Let's transform your brand today!

Contact Michael