Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to Brand Better than McDonalds

The McDonald's golden "m"... can any brand identity be better than that?

Most likely, no.

What does it mean? Cheap hamburgers? Great french fries? Happy Meals? Mick-anythings? If you have a child, that golden M means only one thing: toys. You did realize that the largest distributor of toys in the world is McDonalds? Well it is. And anyone charged with chauffeuring toddlers around in their mini-vans and SUVs knows that if they don't want to go to Mickey-D's for lunch, they better start distracting junior as they race by.

Amazing - a child that does not even know what the alphabet is, can discern what that "m" means. Now that's branding!

But when Dick and Mac McDonald first founded McDonald's (as a BBQ car hop)in 1940, the logo wasn't the golden arches - it was a funny little baker-dude who later turned into the "burgerman" cartoon who then became Mayor McCheese. The golden arches weren't invented until architect Stanley Meston designed them into the modern day founder Ray Kroc's Des Plaines, Illinois franchise. It really wasn't until the 1960's that McDonalds recognized that their golden arches was actually an "m" and until 1969 to actually promote it. You can almost see Ray driving by one of his restaurants and watching those golden arches turn into an "M". Guess it just goes to show you that the genius of inventing a better way to buy, cook, and sell hamburgers is more important than the genius behind the logo.

That being said, how much further and faster would the brand have traveled had they recognized what they had from the very start? Happy Meals weren't invented until 1979! How many kids (aka families) did they miss from 1953 to 1979? Quite literally, millions.

The point is, you have an opportunity — right from the start — to recognize what you have in your brand and utilize it in every piece of marketing you create. Do so, and you maximize the profit potential from every marketing dollar you spend. And what if you don't? Well, if you recognize that your brand is greater than your logo, you could well be on your way just the same - just not as smartly or as profitably. McDonalds didn't know what they had, but forged ahead just the same and became one of the world's greatest companies.

So here's your chance to outshine Ronald McDonald and all of his friends. Start by seeing your own golden "m".

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