Branding and packaging are important tools for any product that seeks to distinguish itself from the competition. Branding and quality packaging are what are used to create the desired image in the minds of consumers. Branding and packaging is a strategic approach towards creating brand loyalty among customers (Beverland, 2007). Branding is different from marketing in that marketing is tactical and aims at addressing a present need and attracting more customers, while branding aims at creating a feeling of belonging and attachment to the customers. As such, branding is defined as the marketing practice that involves the creation of a name and designing a symbol that can be easily identified and helps differentiate it from other products (Beverland, 2007). In a nutshell, branding and not marketing are what retains the target market for a product or service.
For instance, why is apple revered as a luxury quality brand? Why is Starbucks the largest coffee shop in the United States? Why is Coca-Cola the most significant soft drinks brand in the world? The secret lies in the branding of these products. Almost anyone anywhere in the world is bound to recognize the Coca-Cola symbol. Same case, anyone familiar with the apple logo is bound to recognize it as a status symbol. This essay will seek to analyze branding and marketing and how it is used to create brand recognition and loyalty. The case study will be that of the McDonald's food chain and how the brand has implemented branding strategies.
McDonald's Branding Strategy
McDonald's is a fast food restaurant chain that was founded in the United States in the 1940's by the McDonald brothers. It was turned into a franchise company which saw it spread rapidly over the United States. Currently, McDonald's has a presence in more than 150 countries in the world and is the world's largest fast-food restaurant chain globally serving millions of customers daily. That is more than half the world! What is the secret behind McDonald's success? Is it the delicious food? No, it is the McDonald's branding strategy (Keller, 2008).
McDonald's is recognized for its golden arches set in a red background. This image is recognized anywhere where the chain has a presence. Coupled with this logo is the slogan- I'm Lovin it. These two aspects have been crucial in McDonald's success worldwide (Keller, 2008). First is their symbolic meaning which is conveyed non-verbally. Although not the official meaning of the arches, it is easy to assume that the arches are gold in color to signify the quality of the food. Additionally red is the color used to signify royalty. Hence golden arches set in red background convey a message about the quality of services and products of the McDonald's food chain. The slogan of the food chain, I'm Lovin it, is also part of the branding of the product. It alludes to the quality of the food. McDonald's has also branded itself as a fun place where kids can visit for some fun and food.
Packaging is as important to a product as the marketing of the product is. Packaging helps differentiate a product from the competition. Simple packaging that uses only two or three colors has been found to be the most effective in conveying the quality aspect. Scientists have found out that colors affect and influence consumer minds in different ways. For instance, white is used to convey simplicity and purity. Red, on the other hand, evokes strong emotions. Simply put, branding helps create brand recognition.
McDonald's has utilized packaging properly to fully exploit the psychological effects of colors (Sara, 1990). The golden arches in a red background immediately come to mind when McDonald's is mentioned. They have been used to create brand recognition. Most of McDonald's packaging material is red in color with the iconic golden arches. Other forms have the slogan- I'm Lovin it- printed in red across the packaging. The world today is experiencing a renewed call for adoption of recyclable material packaging which McDonald's is set to use. In all its packaging, McDonald's uses its double arches to signify the brand.
Importance of Branding and Packaging
After analyzing McDonald's packaging and branding it is now important to understand how this is synchronized with its strategy to translate into profits. McDonald's targets people between the ages of 8 and 45. However, McDonald's target market mainly constitutes of children. Studies have shown that the average kid sees around 253 McDonald's ads every year (Feloni, 2013). This translates to four times a week. McDonald's seems to embrace this fact with their new branding and packaging. The new packaging is set in different colors asides from the traditional red and gold. Such colors are very likely to resonate with kids (Sara, 1990).
In line with branding for kids, McDonald's has the happy meal at its franchises. This is a kid's version where the kids get to play games and have fun. McDonald's is using this strategy to target and keep the loyalty of one of their biggest target market. Also, the secret market source is a great branding strategy utilized by McDonald's. In reality, any team of scientists or experienced chefs could crack and replicate the Mac Sauce. McDonald's markets it as a secret to intrigue its consumers. For people between the ages of 16-25, McDonald's has the clear packaging for drinks. This is used to signify the quality and 'hip' status of the product. Summarily, McDonald's uses different branding and packaging techniques for different demographics.
Beverland, M., Napoli, J., & Yakimova, R. (2007). Branding the business marketing offer: exploring brand attributes in business markets. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 22(6), 394-399.
Feloni, Richard (2013). Here Is How Many Fast Food Ads American Kids See Each Year. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/american-children-see-253-mcdonalds-ads-every-year-2013-11?IR=T
Keller, K. L. (2008). Best practice cases in branding: lessons from the world's strongest brands. Prentice Hall.
Sara, R. (1990). Packaging as a retail marketing tool. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 20(8), 29-30.
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