Brand Storytelling at the Santa Barbara Zoo with Dean Noble

“Every animal has a story to tell.” And we didn’t even get to them all! But we tried. This week I chatted with Dean Noble, Director of Marketing of the Santa Barbara Zoo. With a diverse background including the movie business, improv comedy, and theme parks, we discussed live events, storytelling, podcasts, Cary Grant, and more on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

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About Dean Noble

Dean Noble is currently the Director of Marketing at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Dean began his career in the entertainment industry and worked in feature film development and acquisitions for ITC Entertainment in Studio City, CA. He spent 10 years with the Universal Studios Recreation Group and was part of the Grand Opening Marketing Team for the two-billion-dollar Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka. He was part of the PR team, marketing training team and brand-managed licensing relationships for Steven Spielberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marvel Entertainment, Peanuts, and Sesame Street, among others.

He has a BA in English from Pepperdine University and an MBA from California Lutheran University was privileged to teach ‘The Zoo’ class at Cal State University Channel Islands. Dean grew up in Honolulu, studied in London and Heidelberg and has circumnavigated the globe.

Be sure to ask Dean about Improv-Ology the popular comedy/science evenings he hosts at the beautiful Santa Barbara Zoo and the new radio show he co-hosts, Zoological Radio, which is produced in conjunction with KCLU FM/NPR for the Central Coast.

Episode Highlights

So, how does one end up as Director of Marketing at a zoo? I had to ask! Dean’s creative background with standup comedy and show business provided a very different type of marketing training. However, given the diverse forms of content we have to create, it needed up being a perfect combination.

Story books. A self-proclaimed “book worm,” Dean shared some of his favorite resources for telling brand stories including Writing for Dough, Bill Idelson’s Writing Class, and Impro by Keith Johnstone (a favorite of mine). He also mentioned another recent branding book by an author that may be familiar to listeners of the show. I think it was called Brand … Now …? Thanks for the shoutout, Dean!

Branding a zoo. First, it’s important to understand that the Santa Barbara Zoo is a very different kind of zoo. Featuring open gardens and innovative animal experiences, Dean and his team have focused on providing a one-of-a-kind trip to the zoo.

Cary Grant and branding? “It takes 500 small details to add up to one favorable impression,” Dean introduced me to this quote from movie star Cary Grant which is applicable to branding as well. “That’s what a brand is!” In many ways, Hollywood is unparalleled in branding.

What brand has made Dean smile recently? Dean recounted his international travels and experience with Universal Studios. Talk about smiles!

To learn more, check out his podcast at

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community …
Gabriel Cohen gave us a shout on Twitter for my recent interview with Justin Wartell. Thanks for listening!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

On Brand is sponsored by my new book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!