Catching sight of some of the TV advertising and media for McDonald’s recently, I am fascinated by the latest strategy of the brand to place itself in the market as a more wholesome option for ‘fast food’. A sponsor for this year’s Olympic Games, McDonald’s aims to promote balanced options for its ‘Happy Meals’, including fruit, vegetable and dairy choices.
The last few years has seen McDonald’s image suffer as a result of unfavourable publicity and claims that alerted the public to its food being a leading cause of obesity. McDonald’s has since been working to rebrand itself as more health conscious by offering more healthy food options.
The two colours we associate with the global brand are red and yellow. The combination of red (energy, speed, activity) and yellow (emotions, confidence) directly communicates to us that in McDonald’s restaurants we can be instantly satiated; get, eat and go. So far, so good.
Except…that it might not have escaped your notice but McDonald’s have also been busy updating their restaurants and have been changing the familiar red shop fronts to a very dark green. Presumably the thinking behind McDonald’s decision to get (heavy handed) with the green in their restaurant design is to influence our perception of the restaurant as offering wholesome food?
We associate particular variations of green with balance and health. However, my thoughts are that the colour green used for the new shop fronts is far too dark and heavy, and there’s far too much of it. The colour is not attractive enough to draw us in, as like a dark green sludgy pool, it looks entirely unappealing. The McDonald’s yellow ‘M’ logo along with ‘McDonalds’ name in white (hygiene, purity) now look entirely incongruous.
Who are McDonald’s now? What do they want to be known as – a fast food restaurant offering healthier alternatives or a wholefood restaurant? Interestingly, the food promotions page on the website http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/promotions.html show a palette of colours that work far better to convey a more wholesome message, and has fresher appeal whilst still keeping in the ‘spirit’ of the brand. Using some of these colours in the design of the shop fronts would have updated it successfully whilst still working with the red and yellow logo. The ‘healthier’ values of the brand would have been maintained whilst keeping visual integrity.
By sacrificing the well-recognised red and yellow shop fronts, will McDonald’s be in danger of losing the public perception of the brand as a bright, lively place to get fast food? Instead, increasingly unrecognisable, will it eventually become overlooked on the high street altogether?
What is colour? Why does it have an effect on us and how can we use it to influence the world around us?
Exploring Colour in Your World – A one day introductory workshop in to colour psychology with Bernay Laity Saturday July 21st 2012 Click here for more information and to book