Featured image for Hey, Maybe You Should Get Rid Of That Dead Lion Logo: Lyle's Golden Syrup Redesigns After Nearly 140 Years

Hey, Maybe You Should Get Rid Of That Dead Lion Logo: Lyle's Golden Syrup Redesigns After Nearly 140 Years

by Bill McCool on 02/21/2024 | 2 Minute Read

Call me crazy, but if I was launching a brand today, I’m pretty gosh-darn sure I wouldn’t use a logo of a very, very dead lion swarmed by bees. Because I’m a sensible person, and so are you, dear reader.

Then again, the year isn’t 1885, and I’m not selling a honey-ish-looking simple syrup concoction.

But that’s the story behind UK baking staple Lyle’s Golden Syrup, which just so happens to hold the Guinness World Record for the oldest unchanged logo and packaging design. Or at least they used to—I think. Maybe.

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New packaging.

This past week, in a bid to woo younger consumers, Lyles announced they redesigned some of their packaging, removing the dead lion surrounded by bees in favor of an artfully composed lion’s head with a single inconspicuous bee blending into his mane. The new design will feature on the brand’s plastic syrup and dessert bottle—but not the classic Lyle’s tin (which I suppose doesn’t necessarily ruin that Guinness run).

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That classic bit of heritage branding was said to have come about because Lyle’s religious owner, Abram Lyle, wanted to use a slogan from the Book of Judges: “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.” It revolves around the story of Samson, who killed a lion while on his way to find a wife in the land of the Philistines. After returning to the spot where he killed the lion, he discovers that bees have constructed a honeycomb inside the lion’s festering corpse. Romantic that he is, Samson uses this as a riddle at his wedding, and Lyle takes the “out of the strong came forth sweetness” part and sticks it under an illustration of a deadass lion.

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Redesigned logo.

Of course, that didn’t stop folks from getting upset about the new design, with the Daily Express going so far as to call it “woke” for reasons that I don’t entirely understand, other than very-old-thing-gets-changed-and-older-generations-have-feelings-about-the-young-people-and-their-feelings. That said, it’s not as if the entire product line is changing. But aside from the arching wordmark, you are losing some pretty settled brand recognition and equity on the shelf.

So, who knows! I’m just a silly American who wouldn’t put a dead lion on a jar of not-honey, even if it was the 19th century.