by Zohra KhanJan 07, 2021
A single, quick passer-by’s look at the new visual identity: logos, text, graphics, applied onto the American hamburger giant’s merchandise and food labelling, makes it easy to concur that not much has changed, that the soul of the design remains essentially the same, despite the apparent simplification. And yet, a closer examination would reveal that the overhaul has been radical, and all encompassing. While it may not necessarily be termed fresh, since the source code of the brand’s current language was the company’s own widely recognisable logo first employed in 1969, through the 90s, until 1999 saw the introduction of the blue ring wrapping the very dynamic logo, the rebranding exercise in a world that is almost entirely digital as it stands: a corporeal contrast to the entirely physical commodities the brand sells, food, is much more comprehensive and expansive. As part of its first rebranding exercise in over two decades, Burger King will be rolling out a new brand logo, packaging, restaurant merchandise, menu boards, crew uniforms, restaurant signage and décor, social media and digital and marketing assets. All the elements of this new visual design will be present throughout all touchpoints of the holistic guest experience that the brand seeks to provide.
The brief received by London, New York and Shanghai-based independent creative agency, Jones Knowles Ritchie, was simple yet complex, as can be imagined from a multi-billion global brand such as BK, especially in terms of the vast heritage and easy identifiability and visibility that the brand carries, to the point of being a household name. “Burger King is on a mission to transform its business, achieving the highest standards for food quality, sustainability and restaurant experiences in the QSR industry. It was time for their visual identity to reflect the rest of their business by creating a brand world that modern consumers could feel good about,” states an official release from the designers as part of their brief, getting started with the rebrand. In line with its official catchphrase, “Have it your way”, which was a huge catchpoint in its ad campaign against its #1 rival, McDonalds, Burger King’s new look indicates “confidence in the future, while remaining true to its heritage and what guests love about BK”.
The new multimedia centric design by Jones Knowles Ritchie was then a response to make the brand feel less synthetic and artificial, and more real, in an effort to connect with its customers to a greater degree. The “simplification” then also reflects a recent improvement in taste and food quality as promised by Burger King, through the removal of colours, flavours, and preservatives from artificial sources from menu items, as well as a resounding pledge to environmental sustainability. The clear inspiration from the classic 60s and 90s logo: that of the text sandwiched between two buns, was also cited as part of the same approach. The restructured minimalism of the new logo seeks to encompass the shift to digital media and the evolution of the brand over time. A refined design that is confident, simple and fun, even while reduced.
While the colours in the new scheme aren’t necessarily a departure from the previous one, the blue from the logo has been entirely done away with, along with any other appearances. The red and yellow have belonged to the fast food industry for ages now, owing to their fiery and racy characteristics, full of energy and distant attraction, being representative of the igneous, and the Burger King brand identity operates almost entirely within that spectrum, with a hint of the darker pastels from the same range. Brown is heavily featured, including in the new uniforms that promote its crew members to masters of the flame grill. The new photography too is hyper textured and dials up the sensorial aspect of the food, primarily featuring quirky, saturated illustrations.
The new typeface is particularly interesting, and features, as aptly and procedurally represented in the brand video, a more curvilinear design, rounded along the edges. Appropriately titled the “Flame” sans, the font is inspired from the shapes of its foods: round, bold, yummy, and is an effort to sneak more irreverence and playfulness into the brand’s identity, while at the same time being strongly evocative of a retro, and dare I say it, a hippie vibe that straight up belongs to the America of 80s. A personal favourite, however, is the favicon. Largely visible as a single, bold, rounded ‘B’, the darker colour in the middle and two horizontal slits give the icon its definition of a burger, with a stubby ‘K’, the flame grilled patty, sandwiched in between the two lighter buns. This one’s an outstanding winner, especially on the app and watch icons.