If you’ve read previous posts, you know how the Fight Bad Design editors feel about swoosh abuse, especially in logos. But every once and a while, a swoosh is used in a logo that actually works.
Burger King has been around since 1958, although its well-known bun halves weren’t created until 1969. Anyone who was around in the 70s is very familiar with the old Burger King logo, though most people probably don’t know there were two versions. A more stylized version with “cleaner” type was introduced in 1994. It’s very subtle. The bun shape was rounded a bit and a new typeface used.
The big change didn’t happen until 1999. And although the change was radical, it still went unnoticed by many. The 25 year old logo was refreshed, redesigned, and knocked on its side. The buns became less prominent and appear glossy with the help of some highlight-swooshes. The Burger King name has an updated typeface. The whole thing is tilted on its axis and emphasized with a big, blue swoosh!
Here’s the thing. I like this logo. The swoosh doesn’t bother me. Maybe because I can see its hidden meaning. Follow me for a minute. The buns are… well, the buns. The red Burger King name is the meat inside the buns, and the blue swoosh is the wrapper holding it all together! I have no idea if this was the original intention of the swoosh. In fact, I’d bet money that it was not. But sometimes personal interpretation isn’t a bad thing in branding. I also like the placement of the ® on the logo. The placement of trade marks and register marks on logos is another pet peeve of mine, and perhaps the subject of a separate blog post. But I certainly do appreciate it when some thought is given to these marks.
In the ten years since this “new” logo has been in use, I haven’t seen much discussion around it. In fact, it seems to be somewhat of a non-issue. I suppose that makes it a success. The company was able to pretty radically update their visual brand without losing any mindshare and without intimidating or confusing their target audience. The new logo is clearly more up-to-date, more visually appealing, and simply more interesting to look at. Don’tcha think?