Lyle’s Golden Syrup: Why The Iconic Brand Ditched Its Lion Logo After 139 Years

By Sara Bright

Lyle’s Golden Syrup is a staple of British kitchens and a symbol of British culture. The sweet, sticky, amber-coloured syrup has been used for baking, cooking, and spreading since 1885, when it was invented by Scottish businessman Abram Lyle. It is also known for its distinctive green and gold tin, which features a lion and a biblical quote: “Out of the strong came forth sweetness”.

But after 139 years, the iconic brand has decided to change its logo, replacing the lion with a bee. The move is part of a major rebranding campaign, aimed at modernising the image of the product and appealing to a younger and more diverse audience. The new logo also reflects the brand’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection, as it pledges to support bee conservation and honey production.

A Controversial Logo

The original logo of Lyle’s Golden Syrup was inspired by a story from the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. According to the story, Samson, a hero of the Israelites, killed a lion with his bare hands. Later, he found a swarm of bees and honey inside the carcass of the lion. He ate the honey and gave some to his parents, but he did not tell them where he got it from. He then posed a riddle to his enemies, the Philistines, based on his experience: “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness”.

The logo was designed by Abram Lyle himself, who was a devout Christian and a fan of riddles. He chose the lion and the quote to represent the strength and sweetness of his syrup, as well as his faith and wit. The logo was registered as a trademark in 1904, and it became one of the oldest and most recognisable logos in the world.

However, the logo also attracted criticism and controversy over the years, especially from animal rights activists and vegetarians. They argued that the logo was cruel and insensitive, as it depicted a dead animal and glorified violence. They also claimed that the logo was misleading and inappropriate, as it suggested that the syrup contained honey, which it did not. They launched petitions and campaigns to urge the brand to change its logo, but they were unsuccessful.

A Modern Logo

The decision to change the logo came after a thorough research and consultation process, involving customers, employees, and stakeholders. The brand wanted to refresh its identity and communicate its values and vision for the future. It also wanted to address the concerns and preferences of its consumers, who were increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impact of their choices.

The brand chose the bee as the new logo, as it symbolised the natural origin and quality of the syrup, which is made from sugar cane. The bee also represented the brand’s support for bee conservation and honey production, which are essential for the ecosystem and the food industry. The brand partnered with the British Beekeepers Association, a charity that promotes the craft of beekeeping and the importance of bees, to donate a percentage of its sales to the cause.

The new logo was designed by Jones Knowles Ritchie, a global design agency that has worked with other famous brands, such as Burger King, Domino’s, and Dunkin’. The agency created a simple and elegant logo, featuring a stylised bee in gold, surrounded by a green circle. The logo also retained the original font and colour scheme of the brand, to maintain its heritage and recognition.

The new logo was unveiled in February 2024, and it was met with mixed reactions. Some praised the change, saying that it was a smart and timely move, that reflected the brand’s innovation and responsibility. Others criticised the change, saying that it was a betrayal and a loss, that erased the brand’s history and identity. Some even joked that the new logo looked like a wasp, not a bee, and that it was a sting in the tail for loyal customers.

A Timeless Brand

Despite the controversy, the brand assured its fans that the change of logo did not affect the quality and taste of the syrup, which remained the same as ever. It also emphasised that the change was not a rejection of its past, but a celebration of its present and future. It said that the lion logo was not gone forever, but it would be used for special…