McDonald’s: the service brand

Brand Royalty – Matt Haig

How the world’s top 100 brands thrive & survive.


Brand success = Business success

“Matt Haig’s pen-portraits of the world’s 100 elite brands are well researched, pithy and insightful. Brand Royalty is an essential who’s who for anyone seeking to do business with the best-managed brands, or anyone who wants to compete with them.”   Terry Haunt, chairman, EHS Brann, and co-author of Scoring Points: How Tesco is winning customer loyalty.

Chapter 5: Muscle Brands

In marketing, as in life, size matters.

The bigger brands become, the more marketing “muscle” they wield and the more consumers gravitate towards them. Obviously, most of the brands in this book operate on a large scale. The brands singled out for this section are those that have become intrinsically associated with their size, as with IBM (‘Big Blue’), or have consistently used their size to muscle their way into the marketplace.

As most of the cases illustrate, size can sometimes work against you. People will always warm to the underdog over the big bully. Big brands have a problem. Size is their strength, but it can also slow them down or cast them as obvious villains.

McDonald’s: the service brand

McDonald’s is listed in the section of Muscle Brands, beside IBM, Wal-Mart, Nike, Starbucks and Microsoft. McDonald’s is, by most people’s standards, a big brand. Indeed, for many, it is the ultimate epitome of a brand giant. Few brand identities are more instantly recognizable than that of McDonald’s. In fact, more people now recognize the golden arches than the crucifix. And there are over 30,000 McDonald’s restaurants is operation worldwide. Now that’s big.

And yet, McDonald’s is a brand in need of salvation. It is in trouble, and under fire from every angle. Everyone seems to have a gripe with the company: anti-globalization protestors; health authorities; lawyers; the food industry; parents.

Fact File:

Founded: 1954

Country of Origin: USA

Brand Fact 1: McDonald’s is the world’s leading food service retailer.

Brand fact 2: McDonald’s has more than 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries.

Brand fact 3: McDonald’s serves 47 million people a day.

Secrets of success:

McDonald’s may face difficulties, but its incredible early growth provides valuable lessons for any brand.

  • Familiarity. Familiarity may breed contempt, but it also breeds comfort. McDonald’s succeeded because people knew exactly what to expect: fast service and clean restaurants.
  • Pride. Kroc had a pride and a love of what his business provided. As he once commented, ‘it takes a certain kind of mind to see beauty in a hamburger bun’.
  • Persistence. Kroc’s ambition was unflinching. ‘Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent’, he said.
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