" ` Back to the Future with Burger King | Haines McGregor

Over the weekend, the ever-bold Burger King revealed a new visual identity– the first in 20 years. It’s carried out a comprehensive overhaul, bringing a mouth-wateringly playful feel to its new celebration of flat design, inspired by 1969 and 1999 logos.

We know it’s still (very) early days, but the move provides three reminders for any marketeer considering doing the same:

1. A rebrand comes with risk, so carefully identify what to hold on to and what to let go

At the heart of any rich brand is a set of powerfully distinctive assets – shapes, colours, sounds, words, fonts – that bring to mind both the brand and positive associations with it.

Although we’re not privy to Burger King’s brand trackers, its visual refresh suggests it was falling short of this ambition. As Fer Machado (Burger King, CMO) reflected on Twitter, the old logo was more reminiscent of a fuel brand than a fast-food chain, with the blue swoop and ‘shiny buns’ lending a sense of artificiality that he was keen to let go of.

But, instead of starting from scratch, Burger King has cleverly drawn on past memorable logos and their appeal. Certainly, from the colour palette to the cheeky monogram, the new design feels fresh yet comfortingly familiar. Coupled with the persuasively ‘delicious’ font, the overall identity enticingly suggests a step forward for the Burger King you know and love – great ingredients and great flavours, delivered with a touch of irreverence.

So, consider the power that existing assets do / don’t hold – ensure any new identity still feels distinctively ‘you’ whilst suggesting a persuasive brand evolution


2. Connect with a lasting cultural shift and the deeper motivations behind it

If you ever needed confirmation that retro was ‘in’, surely this is it. By delving into their archives, Burger King has tapped into a cultural current we’ve seen growing across both fashion and design for years now; back in 2016 Kodak, NatWest and Coop all reverted to vintage graphic identities and more recently Mars have celebrated nostalgia with the return of Opal Fruits.

What’s most interesting for us are the motivations driving this trend – people’s need for comfort and familiarity amidst increasing instability. With pandemic and political anxiety continuing into 2021, the pull of the past is likely to continue and playing into it stands Burger King in good stead. This ‘retro feel’ might initially feel like it belongs in a campaign, but consumers’ desire to return to a safe, uncomplicated time is likely to continue long beyond this year and looks a solid foundation for the brand long-term.

So, spend time gathering deep cultural insight, to help pull apart a transient campaign idea from a brand idea with longevity.

3. Brilliant design promises brilliant experience; the customer should feel the benefit

While distinctive assets are crucial for brand building, brand recognition in isolation doesn’t generate success – at HMc, we believe a richer brand is one that you can feel, not just see. It has an elevated product/service experience that reflects the needs and aspirations of those drawn to it.

And whilst Burger King has recently excelled in marketing creativity (even winning a Cannes Lion last year), customers will be hungry for change that they can really feel. It looks like BK is planning to overhaul its restaurants and that it will continue to develop its plant-based food, but what else is on the menu is unclear. It remains to be seen what this new visual direction – initially suggesting playfulness, vibrancy, and tastier ingredients – means in reality for the customer experience.

So, identify the moments in the experience that need elevating alongside any identity shift to ensure your brand continues to show up as powerfully and consistently as possible.



Brand building takes time. Whilst marketeers are flippin’ out on Twitter and in industry press, it will be a while before we actually know whether Burger King’s decision will pay off in stronger brand equity and financial return.


If you’re looking at a brand re-launch, please get in touch to discuss how we can help hayley.roe@hainesmcgregor.co.uk