McDonald's Goes Minimal for 'Joyful' Packaging Redesign (But Will It Update Uniforms?)
Shortly after Burger King announced its full rebrand, including employee uniforms and packaging for all of its menu items, McDonald’s had its own redesign news to share, debuting a whole new look for its packaging.
It’s actually a lot like Burger King's, in that it features the flat design style that feels retro and modern at the same time.
Before anyone starts saying that McDonald’s copied Burger King here, McDonald’s started working with graphic design firm Pearlfisher at the end of 2016. This was a long time coming.
We have a lot of pride for this partnership with @McDonalds and the packaging design we created together, which is rolling out around the world. View the design details: https://t.co/8DaX9lpmSr pic.twitter.com/D5S4pquHCW
— Pearlfisher (@pearlfisherlive) February 16, 2021
Each menu item’s packaging is designed to portray “joyful moments” that people associate with McDonald’s, according to Adweek. The packaging has already started circulating in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, with the rest of its global markets following suit in the next two years.
“We took into consideration how we could support the renewed brand identity to foster a feel-good experience that works around the world,” Hamish Campbell, executive creative director for Pearlfisher, told Adweek. “No matter the region or language, we wanted the packaging design to communicate joyful moments while being immediate and universal.”
One of the items in particular that Campbell was especially pleased with was the Egg McMuffin, which is represented on the white packaging with a single yellow circle, serving as the yolk of an egg.
“This was one of our starting points where we felt we proved that we can communicate the essence of a single item, a single sandwich, with just one illustration just as the Golden Arches do for McDonald’s as a brand,” Campbell said. “This was our ‘aha’ moment.”
That connection with the Golden Arches imagery is also evident on some U.K. ads for McDonald’s delivery. Again using that contemporary-retro, flat design, they depict the end of the arches landing in someone’s home, like some sort of monochrome rainbow, and the pot of gold is a Big Mac or something. The ads don't even use the McDonald's name, instead relying solely on the logo.
The key takeaway is how much these designs, both McDonald’s and Burger King, say without having to say much of anything at all. We’re so aware of these brands and what they have. You don’t need to sell a McDonald’s customer on the Big Mac, or any item for that matter. Everyone has their their go-to order. And we know the Golden Arches so well that the posters don’t even need to include the name of the company. It conveys enough to show us a fresh and aesthetically-pleasing representation of something we want.
The advice of “show, don’t tell” works for advertising, too.
What's unclear is whether McDonald's plans to update its employee uniforms to match the branding on its new packaging, as Burger King did. While Burger King updated its logo as part of its rebrand, McDonald's did not, which means its uniforms don't need any updating for logo consistency.
That said, McDonald's last uniform update, in 2017, wasn't particularly well received, with muted colors that don't necessarily jibe with the colorful new packaging designs and the "joyful" tone they're designed to convey. The items available at Smilemakers, a company-approved online store for employees, do come much closer to matching the new vibe.
We'll see if McDonald's incorporates its new brand identity anywhere else as it begins to roll out the packaging in North America. In the meantime, we might just grab an Egg McMuffin.