McDonald’s Logo & Branding: A Lesson For Fast Food Companies

McDonald’s started in 1954 and today it has more than 36,000 branches in over 100 countries. The tagline of McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ it’ holds true in the hearts of its customers. It’s the number one restaurant in the world serving some of the best burgers and fries in town.

The fast-food offered by McDonald’s is not the only highlight of the business. The restaurant takes pride in offering value for money. It’s the first reason why McDonald’s continuously try to improve their customer service. From quick delivery to cleanliness, McDonald’s has maintained a reputation in the market that is hard to beat for new brands.

In this article, you will learn all about McDonald’s branding that has added value to their brand. If you’re looking for some inspiration, then this is your best shot!

History & Evolution of McDonald’s Logo Design

The logo is a crucial element of branding and McDonald’s knows this secret. McDonald’s is widely known for its amazing logo design, which is simple and speaks to the audience. From the color choice to the typeface, everything is up-to-the-mark.

McDonald’s logo design is highly known for its ‘Golden Arches’, which is an inspiration for graphic designers. No matter where you live, anyone can easily recognize these arches from miles away!

McDonald’s did not have this logo forever.

It’s why McDonald’s is a great case study to understand the importance of a logo design.

McDonald's Logo Design

Can you see the variations? It’s proof of how much McDonald’s paid attention to redesigning a logo to create brand awareness!

Although the golden arches from the McDonald’s logo were present in the architecture of every McDonald’s restaurant, it was not until 1961 that it became a part of the company’s logo. This logo design was made by Jim Schindler, the head of construction and engineering.

The time between 1961-2003 was a time when McDonald’s logo design went through several transformations. Finally, in 2003, the company chose a final logo design, which is used till today.

The simple use of the golden arches was the highlight of the logo design along with their slogan ‘I’m Lovin’ It’. The current logo design of McDonald’s is a powerful logo that has the staying power in it.

But, don’t think that the logo became famous on its own. It was with proper branding that the McDonald’s logo is today the most recognizable symbol in the world. Let’s move to McDonald’s branding strategy to see how they have made their way in the consumer’s heart.

McDonald’s Brand Position: How It Happened?

If a brand wants to be successful overnight, then working on positioning themselves in the market can be a safe step. McDonald’s is one of those successful brands that have secured their place in the consumer’s mind.

Whenever you look at the golden arches, you instantly recognize that it’s McDonald’s logo. When you think of the best fries in the world, you instantly recall McDonald’s fries. When you think of the yummiest hamburger, McDonald’s instantly comes to your mind.

This is the power of brand positioning!

Only taste and quality cannot serve you for a long time. It has to be bundled up with brand positioning strategies to ensure that consumers never forget about you.

Here’s an example of a McDonald’s ad that did not even include the brand’s logo in it. It shows how strong McDonald’s is as a brand in the consumer’s mind.

McDonald’s Branding

Do you think that it’s all in their logo? Well, correct yourself because this advertisement only has their ingredients mentioned in it and not even the dish name. But still, every McDonald’s lover can easily tell the brand’s name.

McDonald’s is a leader and for all the right reasons. Let’s move to discuss the brand positioning strategy that McDonald’s has worked on for ages!

Adapting to the Change

McDonald's Branding

Before positioning yourself in the market, the brand needs to realize that they need it!

When McDonald’s started, there were already so many fast-food restaurants operating in the market. So, the first question that owners asked themselves was what needs to be done to make themselves stand out in the market?

It was the time when they decided to go for brand positioning!

They shifted their perspective from ‘better than the competitor’ to offering ‘value to the customer’. They focused on providing a different experience to their audience, which is not all the brands are after!

So, adapting to the change and realizing that a change is required is one of the best traits of McDonald’s. They are risk-takers, which is all you need to take your brand to the top!

Focus on Customer’s Needs

What’s the core purpose of McDonald’s branding strategy?

Whenever you visit a McDonald’s outlet, do you get the same customer experience? Is the McDonald’s menu the same throughout the world? Is the stubborn to not make a change when their customer needs it?

Well, it’s surely not true for McDonald’s.

The brand is a pioneer of adapting to the change and working on the customer’s desires. Even the menu of McDonald’s is not the same throughout the world. The menu is always tailored to the demand and customer’s requirements to make sure that nothing stops their customer from visiting them.

The whole concept of McDonald’s branding strategy is to focus on customer’s needs rather than fitting the norm.

McDonald's Branding

Quick Service

As mentioned above, McDonald’s core focus was to provide customers with value. Although it’s basic, it matters the most to the customers.

Being late can cost you a customer!

The McDonald’s brothers conducted research in which they concluded that reducing the number of items from the menu can be a way for fast service. The research showed that their hamburgers and fries were the customer’s favorites, so they mostly focus on serving them.

By shortening the menu, they were able to serve 2x faster than previously. Again, they did not step back to provide value to their customers even if it took the chance of hurting their business. But it eventually turned out pretty great for them!

McDonald’s further wanted to reduce the time of service, so they decided to opt for the lean process to serve. They used to keep their patties, veggies, etc. ready and quickly assembled them into buns where there was an order. It only took them a few minutes to complete the order with minimal wastage. Furthermore, assembly line machines were used to prepare hamburgers, beverages, and French fries. Consumers were happy and the business started to bloom eventually!

Competitive Pricing

Deciding to stick to a lean process was the best decision that the McDonald brothers ever made. Sticking to this process reduced the labor and inventory cost, which lead to a reduction in product prices as well.

Not only that, fast service increased the brand’s sales as well. So, hamburgers at McDonald’s became far cheaper as compared to other fast-food restaurants.

Even today, McDonald’s branding has pretty fair prices for their products. It’s the first reason why people turn to McDonald’s at any time of the day when they are hungry. Everyone knows that they will get quality food at the restaurant at affordable prices!

Cleanliness, Always!

McDonald's Branding

Another important part of McDonald’s branding strategy was cleanliness. The McDonald brothers realized that people were focused on getting hygienic food, which is why they started the initiative.

It became one of the goals of McDonald’s to ensure that the customer leaves the place with a positive customer experience. They made sure that the customer entering their restaurant never leaves dissatisfied.

All new restaurants need to take inspiration from this focus of McDonald’s. The brand is fully oriented to serve its customers in the right way! 

No Compromise on Quality

Mostly machines were preparing the food, so the owners had time to work on the quality of the product. Everything at McDonald’s was done after thorough research of the market.

When the brothers realized that other brands are not using enough quantity of ingredients in their hamburger patties, they instantly took advantage of this loophole. They took the responsibility of serving the best burger patties that are 100% original.

McDonald’s promises 19% fat content in their burgers, which is still consistent in their hamburgers. So, compromise on the quality of burgers is a complete NO for the brand. It’s one reason why it’s everyone’s go-to restaurant in a time of hunger.

Memorable Experience for Customers

McDonald's Branding

McDonald’s not only focused on the quality of their products and services, but they also paid attention to creating an infrastructure in restaurants to ensure an excellent customer experience.

The huge arches, glass partitions, octagonal structure, and not to forget the amazing ‘aroma’ in their restaurants – everything is a part of ensuring customer satisfaction. The staff at McDonald’s is also friendly and well-trained to provide great customer service.

They focused on providing a wholesome experience to customers, which is usually missing from other restaurants.

McDonald’s Advertising: 7 Best Marketing Campaigns by the Brand

McDonald’s branding could not be achieved without their striking advertisements. Although the brand positioning was enough to make them appear as the market leaders, they still focused on producing the best content for marketing.

It’s right to say that McDonald’s always focused on out-of-the-box ideas that made them go viral in no time. Let’s check some of the best advertisements by McDonald’s that took people by surprise!

Big Mac’s 50th Birthday

McDonald’s amazing ‘Big Mac’ completed 50 years in the market and it definitely called for a celebration. To honor its birthday, McDonald’s ran a digital campaign with its focus on the retro theme.

The advertisements and campaigns showcased iconic looks depicting how everything has changed, but the wonderful Big Mac is still the same. To further increase customer engagement, the campaign had more digital elements including interactive social media, Snapchat filters, and much more.

McDonald's Logo Design


McDonald’s always tried something new for their advertising and in 2015, they took the chance with influencer marketing.

McDonald’s hired the YouTube star Raphael Gomes to create a video named ‘What’s in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets?’ to dispel all the myths relating to it. The video was followed by the hashtag #GoodToKnow. The video got appropriate attention at that time even though influencer marketing was just getting started. It was a good promotions tactic by McD!

Check this out on YouTube

Pay with Lovin’

As mentioned, McDonald’s is never afraid to think out-of-the-box even if they suffered the loss. During Super Bowl in 2015, McDonald’s announced their Pay with Lovin’ campaign in which random people were able to pay for McDonald’s burgers with loving gestures only.

Who does that?

It was a wonderful campaign that surely resulted in increasing the load on McDonald’s, but it was all worth it. The campaign was a mind-blowing idea to create a strong positive image of the brand.

Check this out on YouTube

Ask McDonald’s

McDonald’s has always been an open book for customers and their kitchen tours are an example of that. Back in 2015, McDonald’s Canada decided to play fair with their consumers by answering their questions regarding the traceability and quality of McDonald’s.

McDonald’s answered about 20,000 questions by customers and also started a YouTube channel for video responses. The YouTube channel was a wonderful way to connect with the audience and allowed them to see a clear picture as well.  

Check this out on YouTube

Interactive Happy Meal Play Zones

Another successful campaign by McDonald’s was the Interactive Happy Meal Play Zones in the UK. About 150 such zones were launched in 2012 to motivate children to be more active while eating in the restaurant.

It was a wholesome experience and it was not common at that time as well. You can consider McDonald’s as the pioneer in this area for setting a remarkable example for followers.

McDonald's Logo Design

TrackMyMacca App

As mentioned above, McDonald’s has always maintained a transparent relationship with its consumers. They have always paid attention to the consumer’s demands.

‘TrackMyMacca’ app was another attempt by McDonald’s to be fair with their audiences. Australian people were becoming very skeptical about the origins of food because of the potential side-effects.

McDonald’s resolved their problem by coming up with an app that successfully showed the audience the origin of their products. The app was based on augmented reality and a simple scan could give consumers the idea of where the ingredients are sourced from.

Check this out on YouTube

Hands Full

‘Hands Full’ was part of a campaign that further consisted of ‘It Must Be’ and ‘Grownup’ ads in 2018. The aim was not to talk about the food but to innovatively change the perception. The ads showed in-store innovations including table service, mobile app, in-store screen orders, and so on.

The aim of this campaign was to show how McDonald’s is making it easier for people to eat in the restaurant. The campaign tracted a lot of attention at that time!

Check this out on YouTube

McDonald’s – The King of Environmental Advertising

Well, basic campaigns were not enough for McDonald’s so they decided to go an extra mile to get all the attention they could.

The brand has even worked with engineers to come up with some outstanding advertising ideas. Wherever McDonald’s stand today is due to their efforts to be the best in the market.

Here are some examples of their incredible environmental advertising.

McDonald's Branding Advertising

For all morning coffee lovers, this picture will speak to you. Seeing this on the sidewalk will surely make you crave McDonald’s fresh brew, right? Not only is it exceptionally out-of-the-box, but the whole design is appealing enough to catch your attention in a minute. Well done, McDonald’s!

McDonald's Billboard Branding

Well, this billboard is a true piece of art.

A clock with food pictures is fine, but the placement of McDonald’s ‘M’ is quite impressive. It acts as both McDonald’s logo design and the clock hand. What’s more creative than that? Take inspiration from new brands!

McDonald's Branding

Well, scooping out the coffee from this jar must have been difficult, but the whole concept was appealing.

McDonald's Branding Advertisement

This billboard has been my personal favorite!

Sending away the delicious fries to heaven or the stripes on the McDonald’s fries box? Well, who knows, but this surely captured the minds of a lot of people during its placement.

McDonald's Logo Design

Looks delicious, right? Who would not want to try out McDonald’s salads when they are so happy to serve them to you? It’s all about how you portray your product to drive customers to buy it. It definitely worked for McDonald’s branding!

Final Thoughts

McDonald’s is one of the biggest franchises in the world and there is no doubt behind its success.

If a person can look at the golden arches and instantly recognize McDonald’s, then it’s all because of creative and mind-blowing McDonald’s branding!

From logo design to choosing the right color for their brands, every step of McDonald’s branding involves thorough research. If you want to be the next best in the business, then learn to provide value to your customers like McDonald’s.

This brand is a clear example of how you should put your customers first and never be afraid to take a risk. Being creative is the key to reaching your consumer’s mind, so keep testing it like McDonald’s!

  • A Picture of Waqas D.

    Waqas D.

Waqas D. is the co-founder of the branding and website agency, FullStop™. He supercharges brands by crafting memorable logos, brand identities and engaging websites. Besides thousands of startups and medium-size businesses, FullStop has worked with likes of Microsoft & L’Oréal. View our portfolio or get in touch.

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