Welcome to our Smokey Bear brand concept!

This is Phase 1 of our deep dive into the 75 year old campaign. Phase 1 consists of the brand marks, type, palettes, and various graphic assets that make up the foundation of the brands visual identity.

Let’s get to it!

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Smokey Bear.
The Fire Preventin’ Bear.

Why would we choose to work up a branding concept for such a beloved and well-known character? Simple… We love Smokey. We have a firm belief that if you’re going to try to make something better, make it something you are extremely familiar with. Smokey Bear is our Mickey Mouse. A driving force behind why we do what we do; a creative inspiration from childhood. A symbol of American advertising for almost a century, the proof of Smokey’s worth is in the campaign’s success at curbing forest and wildfire frequency.

The successes, while good, does not mean Smokey Bear’s work is done. 75 years young, we felt it was time to revitalize the brand; modernize the system while respecting and taking care of the past. Our goal was to focus on Smokey’s greatest era’s and return the brand to a place where it could live for another 75 years.

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Where do you even start with something like this?

Besides our own collection of Smokey Bear merchandise (which is extensive), we turned to Smokey’s roots and his  current incarnations creator: Rudolph Rudy Wendelin. Our goal was to create a mark, and system, that felt true to Rudy’s works. Rudy would send notes and mail with a hand drawn Smokey face on them (seen in the collage below) and that is where we felt the character came alive the most, in these 10 second doodles. Wendelin’s art is stunning. His history is worth researching and getting acquainted with.

Once we had a basis for our work we had to create pillars for what the brand would do and not do. We didn’t want something that wasn’t authentic to the 75 year history. That meant not trying to recreate the character into something new. It also meant not trying to come up with new illustrations or character models. Rudy’s work IS the brand. This would not take the place of any of those assets. The mark we developed serves as a standardization of the Smokey brand; a fix to the cluster of badly reproduced logos and merchandise. Our mark had to FEEL like Smokey. It had to sound like Smokey when you looked at it. Authenic, authentic, authentic.

We developed supporting type and color palettes from a plethora of historical inspiration, not just with the Smokey brand but from the U.S. Forest Service and AdCouncil. We wanted the brand to feel friendly and approachable, because the ones who will cause change are children and if you make the brand feel to stern or dreary then they won’t feel it’s something they can relate to.

The custom typeface, Junior Ranger, is based on mid-century cartoons and hand-lettered signage. It’s fun characters and quirky attributes lend it to being a perfect way to callout Smokey’s most important messages. Color plays a huge role in any brand, but in campaigns it becomes a superior asset in how each message is relayed. We developed 2 color schemes: A Smokey color set and a complimentary one. Each color interacts will together and when paired with a full color, or single color, Smokey logo it really brings the mark alive.

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This is a lot of design rambling, and we could go on and on about our love for Smokey Bear and the amount of research we did to respect the history. We could talk for hours about Rudy Wendelin and his impact to advertising and our work, but we will let the work do that for us. We hope that our work is indicative of the care and pride we put into this and the respect we have for Mr. Wendelin and the AdCouncil campaign’s history. We’re excited to finally show off (the first part of) a years worth of work, research, care and excitement.


- The Wild Giant Crew

Remember… Only You Can Prevent Wildfires!







Thank you for checking out Phase 1 of our Smokey Bear branding concept.

Phase 2
Merchandise & Advertising
(coming soon)