Champions of Design – Lyle’s
Golden Syrup

06th November

‘So, we are going to use a lion to represent the brand,’ the agency explains to the client, who nods in approval. ‘We believe the lion should be lying down. Dead in fact, and surrounded by a swarm of bees.’

It’s a pretty bizarre image when you think about it. Perhaps that’s the point: we don’t really think about it. Design isn’t something we tend to scrutinise, especially not while grocery shopping.

Instead, we see design more holistically – as a symbol that triggers our brand associations. In the case of Lyle’s, feelings of comfort are evoked by the familiarity of the brand.

That’s not to say that the ingredients of a brand’s design should not carry individual meaning. They signify a brand’s authenticity. In this case, they represent Abram Lyle’s religious belief.

The image references an Old Testament story, in which Samson killed a lion, then saw that bees had formed a honeycomb in its carcass. The design includes Samson’s words, ‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness.’

While we might not have taken the time to understand the significance of the lion, we assumed it meant something, and that’s enough. So, perhaps the parable of Lyle’s syrup is that design is never more sticky than when it beguiles with the metaphorical instead of the literal. As Picasso said: ‘The artist rules the audience by involving them in the creation.’

By James Joice, client director, jkr

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