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Cannes Lions 2021 Live: The story behind the rebranding of fast food chain Burger King

The team behind Burger King’s new identity discuss what went behind the rebranding of the brand after almost two decades

(L-R) Paloma Azulay, Lisa Smith, Ellie Doty and Sara Hyman

On Day 1 of Cannes Lions Live, the team behind the new identity of fast food chain Burger King discussed what went behind the rebranding of the global brand and the thought behind the exercise.

Speaking about the process, Sara Hyman, CEO, North America, Jones Knowles Ritchie, said they wanted something to stand the test of time and create something foundational. She said while the brand knew who it was and carried itself with a tone, it didn’t have the language to do it.

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“We wanted it to be timeless, which is kind of challenging with a brand like Burger King because so much of what they do in the marketing sense is timely and tapping into the culture. With the rebrand, we wanted to create something more foundational, classic and something that could stand the test of the time but had the light flexibility, and identity and agility so they could still show up in revenant ways.”

Lisa Smith, Executive Creative Director at Jones Knowles Ritchie, said the new identity has given the brand a kind of toolkit to work on for further communication. “I think this was the first time that we've been able to match the design and the brand identity to the same level of communications and giving them a great toolkit to go and keep creating all that amazing kind of creatives that disrupt culture, garner the kind of attention and move the brand forward in terms of what their purpose is around the mission around food and sustainability.”

Speaking about the thought behind the process, Paloma Azulay, Global Chief Brand Officer, Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons said they wanted to cover the essence of the brand and translate it into every touchpoint. The next phase is about how the markets are adapting to the new identity, she said.

Azulay said they are seeing exciting interpretations of the identity in markets such as Mexico, Spain and Korea. “They have been collaborating with local artists to paint murals in our restaurants in their own way. So I think it's really important that we create a dialogue with our consumers and in the end, we want people to appropriate our brand. In Korea, we invited our consumers to design their own version of the Burger King logo and it was something super exciting to see. Burger King is a part of Pop culture and the only way to get there is to allow people to have fun,” Azulay said.

Talking about the difference the new logo makes, Ellie Doty, Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King said while many people think they went back to the older logo, it is about the little details. “It can be really easy to look at our old logo and say we got back to it, in fact, we did. But the analogy I like to make is if you go for a haircut or eyebrows fixed, you don’t know what exactly has changed but you know you look a lot better. In this case, we modernised the logo. So it is the old logo, but with its eyebrows done.”

Smith said while making a new identity, they carried out some exercises where more people recollected the 1990 logo or the logos between buns because it was embedded in their minds. They also focused on making everything about the brand from the font, colours to the logo irresistible, said Smith. 

Asserting that the new identity is more foundational and concrete, Azulay said they hope they never have to get a new logo again. “There is that saying that, know where you come from and know who you are. I think that's the case and I hope we don't need to change the Burger King logo ever again. Maybe someone in 30 years will be here, at the Cannes Lions festival, presenting something new to you. But I hope this work can reflect even what similar brands like Nike or Coca Cola have, that they never actually changed their logos. So in the case of Burger King, we don’t need to change our logo ever again because that's who we are,” said Azulay.

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