• The Creative Side

How does McDonalds have such a strong brand?

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

McDonalds is the kind of brand where simply mentioning the name immediately makes you want to have one, it immediately conjures the image of those golden arches in your mind. How has a once small, solitary restaurant founded in 1940 managed to ingrain itself so much into our society and culture? What tricks and tactics have they used to make McDonalds one of the most recognisable brands all over the world? We wanted to take a bit of a dive into the brands history and try and answer this very question in the hope that the methods McDonalds has used in the past my offer some inspiration for small businesses everywhere to help grow their brand.


Firstly, and maybe most importantly, McDonalds branding keeps things simple. The bold use of yellow and red as the main colours and the instantly recognisable golden arches logo demand our attention. Even before the company’s world-wide success the red and yellow colours have been a staple of the brand since the 60s, the minimalist design keeps it easy to understand.

This simplistic style encapsulates everything the brand does. Slogans are short and simple, “I’m lovin it”, product names are equally concise, “Big Mac”, “McNuggets”, nothing in any of the branding is too complex, everything can be understood by even the youngest children. This all means that the branding can be used anywhere in the world and remain the same.

Everything about the way McDonalds markets themselves hammers home the idea that getting food from the restaurant is simple and easy. In this fast paced world where information is constantly being targeted at us and we all consume so much content keeping it simple and easy will always be a winner.


As I mentioned, the colour scheme and logo design have remained pretty much the same since the 60s, bar slight changes the main focus is always the golden arches and the minimalistic design. Remaining consistent for over 60 years and continually promoting the same message build an immeasurable amount of trust with customers… And if the quality your products backs up the marketing then you have a recipe for some amazing growth. This is exactly what McDonalds has experienced since it became a franchise. McDonalds global reach is a testament to how consistent the brand is, no matter where you are in the world the golden arches are the same, the restaurant interiors are very similar, the menu familiar. All these things add to the experience of the brand, the sense of homeliness… With McDonalds you always know what you are going to get… Wow this whole blog sounds like a big McDonalds add now…

The consistent nature of McDonalds branding is immediately noticeable when you see their restaurants in different countries, they can conjure a sense of nostalgia and safety. Before winning his 100m gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Usain Bolt went to a McDonalds and had nuggets, because “It works, stick to what works”. Words to live by, and a testament to the trust and familiarity McDonalds has managed to build with its customers.

Target Market

Knowing who you are selling to is one of the most important aspects of any branding. McDonalds have this down to a tee, from their inception they segmented their customers into target markets and analysed the best way to entice them. Campaigns with Ronald McDonald and the introduction of “Happy Meals” perfectly target their main demographic, children. However, the real genius in McDonalds segmentation is how they allow room for flexibility in their markets, they can target children with one technique and open up a new avenue targeted at another group. This can be seen in the new way they market to parents. The Idea being that the kids are attracted by the colours, branding and games, then the parents are attracted by the prospect of a day out (keeping the kids busy), and the promise of good tasting, cheap, trustworthy food.

McDonalds marketing has grown with its audience, they aren’t afraid to target new areas and new people, and by this point many of us have grown up with the brand ever-present in our daily lives, we can almost feel nostalgic about the brand… Don’t even get me started on McDonalds Monopoly… Kids can love it, adults can love it, I doubt there are many people in the whole world who don’t appreciate peeling a winning ticket off the side of their drink.

The advert below perfectly highlights many of the points I have discussed, it links to McDonalds familiarity, as well as how simple their branding is, and how the marketing has developed to target all ages and all markets, through clever innovations and campaigns… Damn… Now I really want a McDonalds.

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