Advertisement

Lyle’s Golden Syrup ‘throwing away history’ with rebrand, says founder’s descendant

Lyle's Golden Syrup branding
The classic tin will retain its original illustration but the rebrand has been rolled across the rest of the product's range

The rebranding of Lyle’s Golden Syrup has been derided as “feeble and woolly” by a descendant of the company’s founder who insisted “don’t junk a classic”.

Alexander Linklater, whose great-great-great grandfather Abram Lyle designed the original dark green and gold packaging of a dead lion being swarmed by bees in 1883, questioned why its makers had decided to “throw away 141 years of proven branding”.

Tate & Lyle Sugars, which owns Lyle’s Golden Syrup, have replaced the logo to show a rather abstract lion’s face with a single bee flying around its mane to try and appeal to a “21st-century audience”.

Lyle’s original artwork references the Old Testament story of Samson tearing apart an attacking lion with his bare hands.

On his return, Samson finds that a swarm of bees have created a hive with honey inside the carcass, which Samson gathers for himself and his parents.

The packaging features the Biblical quotation from the story “Out of the strong came forth sweetness”.

It is the world’s oldest unchanged brand packaging, and holds a Guinness World Record, having remained almost identical since 1883.

Alexander Linklater
Alexander Linklater said the rebranding is 'a move away from what was a real piece of commercial history'

Tate and Lyle rolled out the rebrand across the full product range, excluding the classic tin, which retains its original illustration.

Mr Linklater, a 55-year-old journalist and biographer, urged the company: “Don’t junk a time-proven classic design.”

He told The Telegraph: “They are changing something that is both very distinctive and familiar to something generic and woolly.

“It was Britain’s oldest brand. The rebranding is a move away from what was a real piece of commercial history.”

“I do not think the feeble woolly-shaped lion is very good. Why throw away 140 years of proven branding?”

Mr Linklater disclosed how his ancestor detested his partner Henry Tate with the pair only being able to merge their companies after Lyle’s death.

He said “nothing remains” today of his great-great-grandfather’s original business, following the Second World War where subsequent death duties had wiped out the company’s liquid assets.

Lyle was a deeply religious lifelong teetotaler of “ frightening temper and fierce morality”, Mr Linklater said, and had been brought up in poverty in the industrial town of Greenock before he moved to London.

Lyle, a Presbyterian, died in 1891 from pneumonia with thousands lining the streets in Greenock at his funeral where he had been provost, Mr Linklater added.

On Tuesday, Tate & Lyle Sugars faced criticism from Church of England members who claimed the rebrand “eradicates” the Christian messaging in its logo.

Tate & Lyle Sugars apologised for the upset caused and said religion played “no part” in the decision to change the branding.

James Whiteley, brand director for Lyle’s Golden Syrup, said: “We’re excited to unveil a fresh redesign for the Lyle’s Golden Syrup brand.

“While we’ll continue to honour our original branding with the heritage tin, consumers need to see brands moving with the times and meeting their current needs.

“Our fresh, contemporary design brings Lyle’s into the modern day, appealing to the everyday British household while still feeling nostalgic and authentically Lyle’s.

“We’re confident that the fresh new design will make it easier for consumers to discover Lyle’s as an affordable, everyday treat while re-establishing the brand as the go-to syrup brand for the modern UK family, featuring the same delicious taste that makes you feel Absolutely Golden.”