Do we have to have a heart?

Brand On Shelf managing director Guy Douglass looks at the role of the heart motif in branding, following Yeo Valley’s new identity.

My Little Pony
My Little Pony

The news of the latest redesign for Yeo Valley Yoghurt (or Yeogurt as it is now known) has prompted me to question the relevance of (and potential ownership of) the heart device.

Brands will very often take ownership of a strong shape as part of their branding. In most instances that shape will reflect the essence of that brand or some feature of the brand that makes it stand out from the crowd. Sometimes the shape used by a brand is simply used to help it to get shelf impact.

So what do we think of the use of a heart? In some instances it makes sense and it communicates something that is fundamental to the brand. I would put the Cow & Gate pair of hearts into this category (the two hearts representing the two way sharing of love between a mother and her baby).

Cow and Gate
Cow and Gate

Equally if the central tenet of a brand is that it is good for your heart (such as Benecol) then the use of a heart device is understandable.

However, as an experiment we did a little exercise this morning at BOS: everyone was challenged to find brands that use a heart as a main part of their logo. A couple of hours later we had come up with a grand total of FORTY SEVEN brands. What’s more, anything that would obviously include a heart, such as the British Heart Foundation, Love Hearts and Heart FM, were discounted, so I’m sure we could easily have got to 50 and beyond.

What does this show? Is there something that is driving this?


Perhaps brands are desperate for us to love them, so they use the shorthand for love to lure us in. Maybe the heart shape is inherently attractive and works as a handy holding device on the front of packaging. Or maybe the branding industry is running out of ideas (I can’t believe that’s the answer!).


There are plenty of good reasons for using a heart device in branding, but I also believe there are quite a lot of reasons (at least 48) why it would be a good idea to come up with a new way of communicating love, care, the love or care with which a product is made, the love that surrounds the head office of a brand or the kitchens of the consumers that use it.

The full list of our findings is as follows:

• Walls Ice Cream
• Cow and Gate
• Lyons cakes
• Whitworths dried fruit
• Linda McCartney ready meals
• Paxo stuffing


• Hartleys Jam
• Dairy Farmers of Great Britain
• Pampers nappies
• Benecol spread
• Flora spread
• Comfort fabric conditioner
• Love Tub desserts
• Habitat
• Daylesford Organic
• Kingsmill “love to toast”
• Frumoo dairy
• Kelkin (snacking)
• Together drinks
• Virgin London Marathon


• ‘one’ from Ocado
• Liverpool Victoria insurance
• Jammie Dodgers
• Mrs Crimbles bakery products
• Hale and Hearty snacks
• Love (fruit bars)
• Halo tampons (Tesco)
• Lipsy clothing
• My Little Pony
• Kiss FM (Heart FM as well, but you can understand the heart on that one!)
• TY (Beanie babies)
• Oatibix
• Zip firelighters
• Fairy laundry products
• Terrence Higgins Trust
• Nando’s chicken restaurants
• Munchkin (baby accessories)
• Noodle Nation
• Hipp Organic
• SMA baby milk
• Muller Fruit Corner
• Muller Light
• Cadburys Milk Tray
• Eurovision song contest
• Yeo Valley
• Nestlé confectionery
• Per Una
• Butterkist popcorn


Guy Douglass is managing director of Brand on Shelf.

Hide Comments (2)Show Comments (2)
  • Peter November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Nice article. The heart design approach has the same issue as the ‘Love’ approach.
    Everybody’s jumping on the bandwagon to be the same but different and looses it’s identity.
    Another approach I’ve noticed, is filling a graphic shape with a product or another object to promote (CBS outdoor for instance).
    I imagine an article on we/I/You “love” would find a similar amount of promotions and campaigns (probably more)

  • Nick Clark November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    You’ve missed the Health Lottery…

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