Whataburger is one of the biggest burger joints in the U.S., although it is behind market giants such as Burger King or McDonald’s profitability. It is a family business founded in 1950. Harmon Dobson and Paul Burton. Now its chain covers several counties in the U.S. in the Southwest and Southeast. It includes more than 800 fast-food outlets serving several types of burgers, sandwiches, fries, hotcakes, chicken strips, and desserts.
Meaning and History
To create Whataburger, Harmon Dobson had to give up the oil business. It wasn’t hard to do because his partner went on a binge and nearly caused the confiscation of several thousand dollars invested in drilling. The entrepreneur, who already had experience developing a family farm, building an oil refinery, reselling used cars, and mining diamonds, did not wait for his new business to become unprofitable. He took the money out of there right away and set about financing Paul Burton, a keen hamburger fan. Together they opened a restaurant and called it “Whataburger,” as if to voice the enthusiastic exclamation of customers, “What a burger!” and to foresee the successful fate of the future chain.
Dobson wanted his burger shop to be the best, so he tried in every way to make it stand out from the competition. He decorated the gable with a striped “W” in orange and white back in the early years. This combination and order of colors were chosen on purpose. The restaurant owner had once built radio masts, and they are mostly painted in white and orange stripes – it makes it easier for pilots to see an obstacle. He hoped his “W” would be as visible to customers as radio towers are to airplane drivers.
It later got wings and became the main logo element, which has been in use since 1972. Within ten years, Whataburger realized that its logo was very similar to the character Wonder Woman, created by DC Comics. The management of the restaurants decided not to raise the scandal. However, the Flying W burger was introduced earlier than a similar visual sign of the superheroine, so their diplomacy is enviable. The similarity of the two logos only bothered Whataburger in 2016, when DC Comics set out to sell Wonder Woman branded food products.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
The big “W” was chosen for several reasons:
- It is the first letter of the restaurant chain’s name, making it easy to identify the brand.
- It became recognizable due to its multi-component structure: the Flying W contains five parallel lines with extensions at the ends.
- The burger chain has never experimented with an emblem, which automatically puts it in the category of iconic.
Under the stylized letter with “wings” is the word “WHATABURGER.” The designers chose a sans serif typeface. The bold, jagged lines make it look like it was drawn, as the strokes are similar to brush strokes. The free Whatafont Regular typeface from Iconian Fonts was designed based on it.
Because Harmon Dobson wanted his logo to be as prominent as the radio masts, he used two alternating colors for the W-shaped symbol: white and orange. The restaurant chain’s name is also orange and has a similar shade of #FF770F.