Burger King dumped its old slogan for this?

Burger King (BKW) is getting deep, even if that requires using questionable grammar.

The chain is no longer telling people to "Have it your way," the slogan that has helped it sell burgers for 40 years. The company's new mantra? "Be your way."

What does that even mean, you ask? Have Burger King executives been sifting through Tony Robbins' recycling bins?

The company, clearly prepared for some head scratching, was quick with an explanation. The new slogan is telling people that "they can and should live how they want anytime," the company said in a prepared statement. "It's OK to not be perfect. ... Self-expression is most important, and it's our differences that make us individuals instead of robots."

For companies, re-branding also entails risk, and consumers are often quick to poke fun. In this case, wags might note the irony of a global fast-food conglomerate encouraging customers to be original. It's also reminiscent of the sentiment Taco Bell is trying to evoke with its "Live Mas" tagline, which means "live more" in Spanish.

Both chains dumped more active and lively phrases -- "Have it your way" and "Think outside the bun" -- for what many might consider more ambiguous, quasi-inspirational sayings that might make "Mad Men's" Don Draper shake his head in bemusement.

Is this the new world of fast-food marketing? Telling people who are scarfing down calorie-laden value meals that they are being true to themselves?

The Associated Press went to a branding professional for some help decoding Burger King's new tagline.

"The problem is that people don't see themselves as living the Burger King lifestyle," Laura Ries, president of brand consulting firm Ries & Ries, told the news service. "You've got to be realistic with the place that your brand holds in real life."

Some Twitter users were clearly confused by "be your way" and any place it might hold in their lives, however. "Sounds too deep, like the King attained nirvana or something," wrote one. Another user wrote that the slogan is at least better than "all our customers look sick and diseased because of diets rich in fast food."

For Burger King, of course, the shift is a serious attempt to more deeply entrench itself in a customer's lifestyle. It doesn't want to be just the place you stop for a lunchtime Whopper. It wants more from diners.

"We want to evolve from just being the functional side of things to having a much stronger emotional appeal," Fernando Machado, a company senior vice president, told The AP.

  • Kim Peterson

    Kim Peterson is a financial journalist covering business and the economy. She has written for several online and print publications, including MSN Money and The Seattle Times.