The Inspiring Journey of the Burger King Logo

by Mike Jansen

The famous Burger King logo underwent multiple changes before seeing the latest modification in 2021 – the fast food brand’s first rebrand in over 20 years. The brand didn’t just alter its logo design, but also its product packaging and staff uniform. Here’s how the Burger King rebranding has worked over decades.

Whether you’re a burger lover or not, it’s almost impossible to not have heard about Burger King (BK)- the second biggest burger chain, with a worldwide network of more than 17,800 outlets in over 100 countries. Based out of the unincorporated region of Miami-Dade County, Florida, this burger brand was launched as InstaBurger King (1953). Unfortunately, as Insta-Burger King faced monetary challenges in 1954, it was won over by its two Miami-based franchisees, named David Edgerton and James McLamore, who rebranded it as “Burger King”.

In the next five decades, the brand ownership was passed over four times, with its third set of proprietors, a joint venture of Bain Capital, TPG Capital, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, making their venture public in 2002.

In the latter part of 2010, 3G Capital (Brazil) won a major share in the company, according to a contract of US$3.26 billion. A restructuring project of the company was initiated for better growth and marketing. 3G, in association with Berkshire Hathaway, merged Burger King with Tim Hortons (the Canadian-based doughnut brand), under a new parent brand named Restaurant Brands International.

The journey of the Burger King logo is as interesting and fascinating as its ownership journey. Here’s how one of the world’s topmost fast-food chains changed their visual identity to adapt to changing times.

Burger King Logo – History and Evolution

Burger King logo history and evolution

Since first launched in 1953, both the Burger King brand and logo has undergone several changes to become one of the most readily recognizable fast-food destinations across the world, challenging even some of its biggest competitors like McDonald’s, Subway, and Starbucks. While the company owes much of the success to their delicious food and quick service, its famous Burger King logo has also played a key role in their popularity.

Below, we’ll take a tour around the history of the Burger King logo, and how it has helped the brand reach its business goals.

The brand identity of Burger King underwent major redesigns during its entire tenure. It took around 16 years to figure out its signature style and multiple logo versions were created between 1953 and 1969. Nevertheless, after 1969, the brand only modified and refined its iconic emblem, retaining the color palette and its key design elements. The latest Burger King rebranding was welcomed in 2021, since the last attempt in 1999.

The current emblem is a reflection of a power and modernism, one that values legacy and tradition. It’s also a perfect expression of the brand’s nature and objective, instantly identifiable all over the world.

1953 – 1954

The Inspiring Journey of the Burger King Logo

Originally known as Insta Burger King, the brand got its initial logo in its first year of inauguration. The prefix “Insta” had its origin in the broiling and milkshake machines that were used in its earliest stores. This brand name prefix was used in its first logo, which featured an all-caps wordmark within a bold red circle. However, the name ‘Insta-Burger King’ lasted for only one year with the company and was soon replaced by today’s ‘Burger King’. Obviously, the ‘Insta’ logo was also dropped.

1954 – 1957

The Inspiring Journey of the Burger King Logo

Just one year after its launch, the company was overtaken by James McLamore and David R. Edgerton, and the emblem was changed to a simple bold wordmark in a customized sans-serif typeface. The logotype was very basic with uneven-edged letters and no extra features. This logo represented the brand for three years before it was changed once again in 1957. Interestingly, this logo is still in use at their Miami, Florida store.

1957 – 1969

The Inspiring Journey of the Burger King Logo

Both the typeface and color palette of the previous logo was changed in this version. Here, the red wordmark was placed against a light ochre backdrop, which gave it a vibrant look. The characters were also made to look neat and bold, something similar to the TILT typescript – a modern sans-serif with quirky letters.

The redesigned logo also featured the tagline “Home of the Whopper”, where all the letters were black except “Whopper”. This version of the Burger King logo is used till date at the brand’s first active location in Naperville, IL, and it hasn’t changed a bit since its inauguration.

1969 – 1994

The Inspiring Journey of the Burger King Logo

The trial version of the iconic Bun logo was designed in 1969. The bright red wordmark was positioned in two levels between the two halves of the bun, painted in ochre. Although the color palette remained the same as the earlier logo version, the style, shape, and composition were entirely different. The wordmark featured a bold, rounded sans-serif font with smooth lines. The second part “King” was purposely enlarged so as to create the perfect balance between the sandwiched layers, much like a real burger.

1994 – 1999

The Inspiring Journey of the Burger King Logo

The brand logo was once again redefined in 1994. This time, the letters were more solid and traditional, and the ochre color of the buns was replaced with bright orange, which gave the logo a strong and enigmatic look. The bright red and orange color palette of the emblem symbolizes positivity, passion and energy, the values which the company lives by.

The all capital wordmark features a bold rounded sans-serif – similar to the VAG Rounded ExtraBold font, except the letters “G” and “R”s with flattened features that make the inscription look more confident and convincing. Although this emblem was officially dropped in 1999, some Australian restaurants like the Hungry Jack’s still use a logo based on this design version.

1999 – 2021

The Inspiring Journey of the Burger King Logo

The Burger King logo was once again redesigned in 1999 by Sterling Brands agency. This time, the lettering between the sliced buns was positioned crosswise, with yellow buns and some white strokes. The red wordmark was now enlarged and featured a unique modern sans-serif typeface with sharp angles and smooth lines. Unlike the previous logo versions, this one had a round shape.

The emblem was also bordered by a blue C-shape line, giving the logo a brighter and more professional look. This version of the emblem is one of the most memorable visual identities of Burger King, flawlessly balanced in terms of shapes, colors and design, thus evoking a warm and friendly feeling. It is still popular in many locations.

2021 – Today

The Inspiring Journey of the Burger King Logo

In 2021, people witnessed another Burger King rebranding as the logo received another makeover from Jones Knowles Ritchie. It was a modified adaptation of the 1969 and 1994 logos, featuring a bold red wordmark sandwiched between two bun-halves. The light cream backdrop of the logo gives it a warm and friendly look. The blue color was completely dropped from the emblem’s color palette.

From restaurant menu cards and staff uniforms to TV commercials and digital campaigns, the majority of the brand’s products and promotional materials have come to adopt this logo. The official Burger King website and mobile apps were updated on January 7, 2021, to include this logo version. According to Ritchie, the new logo is a tribute to the company’s heritage with a sophisticated design that reflects simplicity, confidence, and fun.

The product packaging designs are illustrations of its product ingredients, featuring words like “Tasty” and “Crispy” to draw people’s attention. Another noteworthy change was that the brand’s famous Whopper burgers would no longer include artificial colorings and preservatives. This was an attempt to offer healthier food options to its customers, which might increase recurring business and create a reliable source of referrals. In a nutshell, Burger King rebranding is not only about logo redesign but also about offering healthier food options.

Final words, 

As a company that has evolved to become one of the leading international fast food chains, Burger King required a fresh and professional-looking emblem that would communicate their authority and separate them from the competitors. And luckily, the revamped logo design of 2021 has been able to serve the purpose successfully. As with most global brands, Burger King holds a strong digital presence and its logo was designed to work across a range of digital platforms.

As part of its digital rebranding initiative, Burger King also uses a new favicon that improvises the letters B and K into a mini burger on its app and a few other online platforms. The idea is to make sure that whether you’re seeing just one element of the logo like the font or color, or all the elements together, you can easily recognize them and differentiate them from others.

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