A Whopper of a rebrand from Burger King

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A Whopper of a rebrand from Burger King

To herald the new year, Burger King dropped its latest brand identity 20 years late last week. Needless to say, the move attracted plenty of commentary, most of it positive.

If you thought the design by Jones Knowles Ritchie is another example of retro revival, think again.

Yes, the typeface may echo the flower power generation but, make no mistake, this is a design for the future.

The design approach isn’t anything new to the King’s brand world, taking cues from 1969, while paying homage to its heritage with a few updates and important differences.

If you ask me - it's about time.

I grew up with the iconic bun logo. It felt wholesome, hearty and “biteable”. 

Somewhere in the late 90s the brand seemed to lose its way and that rippled into all its markets across the globe. This left us with a complicated and terribly over thought logo - the flame logo era. 

Reflecting a brand that was in flux, desperate to stand out, it was clear the fast food brand forgot about the burger and how it made people feel.

To me, the Whopper is more than a burger, it’s an institution, a beacon of the power of simplicity. 

Think about it - it’s basically, mayo, beef patty, onions, lettuce, pickles, butter, salt and pepper in a bun. BUT IT IS PACKED WITH UMAMI. Is it the famous flame grilled taste? Or the generous serving of mayo and thick tomato sauce? So many things work for it and it’s all in the detail. The new branding puts the food and how it makes you feel at the heart of it all.

Like the Whopper, I personally prefer looking at the new brand world as a combination of many parts. 

It is the symphony of simple design approach that makes this work. 

Take the type, for instance, Flames Sans. It's bold, organic and malleable. As JKR describes it, “(The Typeface is) designed to reflect the organic shapes in the world”. To me, it’s a typeface that feels wholesome and spirited. It has personality, and its imperfections make it a charming typeface that is a supporting act to the main star of the show - The Whopper. The typeface comes alive on billboards, and packaging. It becomes tactile - look at it long enough and you just want to grab it with your hands and play with it.

That said, by itself, it would do little for the Burger King experience. In good design comedy, they have found a way to capture this relentlessly sassy typeface in between two buns, almost as if suggesting that the goodness of flavour is best served in a bun. 

Then you have the illustration by Cachete Jack that feels tangible and fluid, coupled with vibrant colours. Whilst I like it, I cannot help but wonder (Carrie Bradshaw, 1998-2004) if the illustration approach is one aspect of the new brand world that may not be able to stand the test of time. 

When you bring all these elements together you get a truly Instagram-worthy brand that stands out on social and digital, and OOH that (for a change) turns our streets into savoury galleries. 

But, most importantly, it tells us where the brand is going and what it stands for. 

This new brand world conveys its natural flavour, deliciousness, and a brand that has it’s finger on the pulse of culture. 

It fills me with joy, and suddenly, I’m back to the Burger King that felt wholesome, expensive and human.

(At the time of writing this thought piece, the writer was feasting on a King Sized Whopper meal during which he felt that all things were still good in the world.)

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Naresh Subhash

Naresh Subhash

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