What is conservation marketing?

8 June 2023

Conservation Marketing: Empowering Change through Effective Communication 

Photo by Fungai Tichawangana

What is conservation marketing?

Firstly, what is conservation? 

Conservation is the careful maintenance and upkeep of a natural resource to prevent it from disappearing. That can be the conservation of a building, of art, or in the way we’re most passionate about, conserving our environment.

We’ve been around for nearly two decades and are proud to have worked with conservation organisations such as the RSPB, the Ocean Conservation Trust, the National Trust, National Park Rescue and the Sealife Trust.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation UK Giving Report 2022, fewer people in the UK are donating to charity, yet there are signs that giving to conservation and environmental causes may be increasing. The need to stand out in a crowded space is vital for conservation organisations.

At Navigate, we’re the UK’s leading marketing consultancy for tourism and conservation. We’re going to break down what conservation marketing actually is, why it’s important and why we’re passionate about it.

Photo by John Salzarulo

Why is conservation marketing important?

Communication is a key skill in marketing. To take something that might be complicated, hard to understand, or even boring (sorry scientists) and inject personality, creativity and intrigue to make it interesting and accessible to the desired audience is vital.

Conservation is ultimately one of the biggest topics in the world right now. If it is ignored, then the fate of our planet is in trouble. But even writing that down in black and white left me with a sense of dismay and panic. If we don’t take conservation messages and convert them into public engagement through conservation marketing, we risk turning off the general public.

Here are some different examples of conservation marketing:

Brand building for conservation organisations  

All organisations have a brand. Whether it’s your local plumber, a national bookshop, a restaurant or, in this case, a conservation organisation. It’s vital to build your brand to become trusted, valued and meaningful.

We’ve worked with conservation organisations to take their brand and elevate it. Conservation organisations are normally set up by people with a passion that want to do good. They have skills and expertise and normally the ones working on the ground, but sometimes those skills need help when looking to expand their organisation's brand.

In 2010 the inspirational charity Conservation International hired the world-leading design agency Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv to help them rebrand. The result was taking their intricate logo and refining their identity and outlook. This elevation is a perfect example of conservation marketing and how branding building can work for a conservation organisation.

When it comes to our clients, we’re experts at getting “beneath the hood” of an organisation. We can audit a conservation organisation’s marketing outputs, digital channels and their tone of voice, and from this, can devise a clear brand strategy to take their conservation brand to new heights.

Brand building for conservation organisations is vital for our planet.

Photo by Jason Blackeye
Photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen
Photo by Brian Garrity

Fundraising and generating income  

Most conservation organisations are not for profit. This means to carry out their vital work conserving our planet; they need to raise awareness and funds to pay for their work. Following on from brand building, another pillar of conservation marketing is fundraising.

The psychology of fundraising is a complex art. The combination of tone of voice, messaging, look, feel, and proposition are all needed to create a compelling fundraising offering. All of which are tactics used in classic ‘sales and marketing’ departments in brands and businesses around the world. Taking these principles and transforming them into fundraising mechanics isn’t easy. Being too direct can turn funders off, and being too passive can lead to apathy.

It’s the job of conservation marketers to use traditional marketing values and convert them into fundraising parameters for conservation organisations.

For example, one of our clients, the Ocean Conservation Trust, has a clear goal to raise funds to protect and preserve seagrass habitats in the UK. We’re proud to support their work and have even introduced other clients of ours, such as DFDS, to support their fundraising efforts. Conservation marketing can lead to a collaboration of like-minded organisations for fundraising.

Going big with campaign marketing

When a new product, event, or experience is created, we work with attractions, destinations and businesses on campaign creation, data capture, and ticket launches.

Well, conservation organisations use campaigns for objectives such as driving awareness for issues, getting people to sign petitions, and even sharing their news. Conservation marketing campaigns are a fantastic way to highlight a charity’s mission or purpose and can generate a huge amount of attention when done correctly.

After the award-winning groundbreaking BBC UK nature series “Wild Isles”, the collaboration of RSPB, WWF and the National Trust saw the inspirational campaign “Save our Wild Isles”, raising a huge amount of awareness and public attention for the animals that call the UK home. Using the national television show narrated by Navigate hero Sir David Attenborough, this concise collaboration of conservation organisations drove a targeted campaign message to millions.


To put it simply, conservation marketing is a vital tool to ensure charities and purpose brands can generate enough income to continue doing what they’re doing.

If you work for a conservation organisation and would like to speak to an expert team about your marketing strategy, campaign ideas or digital advertising, then get in touch below, or view our conservation marketing work here.

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