Like many parents of teen kids this past weekend, we moved our son to his new school in Oakville and as I sat waiting for Eric on a bench outside of a McDonald’s restaurant, I got to thinking about McDonald’s itself. How long it’s been around, how it’s changed, where it started from and from a graphic design point-of-view… about its “logo”. I am not a fan or loyal customer of its food but I am amazed and impressed by McDonald’s effective branding. So much so, I sought to learn more.
DID YOU KNOW….
The “golden arches” of the world’s largest fast food empire are one of the most recognizable logos in existence. With over 35,000 restaurants in 120 different countries and a net worth of $39.1 billion, McDonald’s is the ninth richest company in the world and the largest fast food chain.
HISTORY OF THE LOGO
Though the golden arches were present in the architecture of every new McDonald’s restaurant starting in 1953, it wasn’t until 1961 that the unique architecture was incorporated into the company’s logo. Between 1961 and 2003, the McDonald’s logo would undergo several more iterations. In 2003, though, the company settled on a design and slogan that would continue to this day. The company’s iconic golden arches became the only element present in the design, save for a line of text beneath them that read “i’m lovin’ it”, purposefully written in all lower case. Whether the logo will change again in the coming years is something yet to be seen, however, one thing is for certain: the current McDonald’s logo has had a lot of staying power over the past 14 years and is now one of the most recognizable symbols in the entire world.
DESIGN ELEMENTS OF THE LOGO
One of the most effective design elements of the McDonald’s logo is the fact that besides the architectural aspect, the shape of the “M” looks similar to two golden French fries. It’s a subtle message that advertises one of McDonald’s most popular menu items without the viewer ever realizing it.
Another important design element of the McDonald’s logo is its simplicity. McDonald’s quickly became an extraordinarily recognized and successful chain so the company didn’t need a logo explaining what they offered - people already knew. Instead, they needed a logo that would be simple, unmistakable, and easy to recognize from a distance. The 2003 version of the McDonald’s logo was the perfect fit. The company, at this time, also chose to incorporate their slogan “i’m lovin’ it” into their logo.
POPULARITY OF THE LOGO
In recent years, McDonald’s has come under fire for promoting poor health choices and waste. It’s an image the company is trying to combat, but one that their iconic logo has come to represent nonetheless. For many of the same reasons that McDonald’s has come under fire across the world, the US has faced criticism as well, and the McDonald’s logo is seen by many as a symbol for some of the less-appealing aspects of American culture.
These negative connotations aside, the McDonald’s logo is still an incredibly popular icon in pop culture. Its appearance in television, movies, comics, and art are almost countless.
Today, the golden arches can still be found all across the world, and whatever bad press the chain has received has little to hurt its business. Like their logo, McDonald’s doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, and you can count on seeing the golden arches on street corners and in pop culture for many years to come. Now that good people is effective, fantastic graphic design and branding at it’s best – whether you like the company or not.