The project, in the works for about two years, updates the logo introduced in 1969 and first updated in 1994 which shows the words Burger King written in red lettering nestled in a bun. Starting in 1999, Burger King began using a more circular design with a blue outline that has a bit of a "swoosh" feel. That design from Sterling Brands felt appropriate in the late 1990s and early 2000s but it doesn’t work as well online. A cleaner, simplified look is what brands need for visual cues on mobile phones and in cluttered social media feeds.
Burger King’s new look is flat, with fewer colors and elements. “The playground for brands is in the digital space,” says Raphael Abreu, Restaurant Brands International head of design.
The modernized take on the classic logo for the chain founded in 1954 feels more authentic.
“We are very proud of that that we found in our own history our path forward,” Abreu says as he stands next to Machado in a brown Burger King tracksuit style uniform. (The color, by the way, even has a name: BBQ Brown.) “I think it’s a much better portrayal of who we are as a brand.”
A new font, dubbed Flame, was designed for stills and movement. The lettering has no sharp edges and can stretch to showcase words such as melty and juicy on sandwich wrappers, for example, and conveys movement in animation. Burger King is also using a new photography style in its marketing materials that shows more texture of the food.
The colors Burger King is focused on have monikers. The primary colors, inspired by flame grilling, are Fiery Red, Flaming Orange and BBQ Brown. The secondary palette includes Mayo Egg White, Melty Yellow and Crunchy Green.
And the blue from the 1999 logo is being retired. Blue “is not so appetizing,” says Machado, who wasn’t working on the brand when it was introduced.
The Burger King brand was “disparate and fractured,” says Lisa Smith, Executive Creative Director at JKR. The Whopper identity had almost become more recognizable than the Burger King master brand identity, she says.
The updated design feels “less synthetic,” says Smith.
JKR also worked with Burger King's sibling brand, Popeyes on design updates unveiled in 2020.
Burger King won’t issue advertising solely focused on the new look, says Machado. And, he adds, Burger King doesn’t have any plans to run a Super Bowl spot in 2021. In 2019, it featured a 1980s video of Andy Warhol having a Whopper, and the logo on the bag in that commercial is similar to the one being introduced.