McDonald’s has launched a new global look for their food packaging, and frankly, it’s as stale as their cheeseburger buns.
Now, in all fairness, the new design is a result of a one-week design blitz that involved one designer from seven of McDonald’s lead agency partners. I’m sure many of the desigers were qualified for the job, however, too many designer egos in a room can spell disaster. The all-star designer team hailed from Leo Burnett Germany, TBWA U.S., DDB Hong Kong, Creata Australia, Boxer UK, Landini Australia and Forpeople UK.
Matt Biespiel, McDonald’s senior director-global brand development, stated in the brief that the packaging needed to be “true, bold and simple”. I have to say that though the design may have delivered to the objectives, but I feel could be improved on certain levels. Here are three areas where I feel the packaging fell short:
- LACK OF APPETITE APPEAL: the 2000’s packaging (see below) offered photography of the product and reminded us where the food actually came from. With the new look, this is all forgotten (we all already know the food can’t be real, but photos help). The current generation of millenials do hold high regard food that is free from artificial flavours, antibiotics and hormones. As a food service company, the packaging has to make the food look good first and foremost.
- READABILITY: The treatment of their packaging takes me back to my first year as a design undergrad doing typography exercises. The packaging is unimaginative, and not as progressive as McDonald’s would hope it would be. It’s awkward to read the words going across the multiple lines as my eye constantly goes to the word ‘ON’ in McDonald’s. The upper-lower case treatment of words also wreaks havoc on readability as is the case with “Egg McMuffin”.
- LACK OF COHESIVE DESIGN: as a group, the packaging has few visual elements to tie it together. In the 2000’s, the photography and blocks of red helped create a familial look. For the 80’s it was the repetitive M’s and colour coordination. For this new look, the candy colors and large text seem like fun, but there is no single element that is consistently on every single package.
With all that said, there is still one thing I believe the design did (sort of) right: the logo. McDonald’s should continue to exploit those beautiful golden arches. Our attention to read has gotten shorter. Take a look at brands with a long history, they have all reduced the use of the wordmark. Starbucks, Nike and Apple have done so, and it works well for them. There is not much equity in overextending the use of the McDonald’s wordmark, it’s not familiar or memorable enough. The one bag on the top, second from the left is a great example of this.
The fast-food environment has changed over the last decade, from a quick-service style to a preference for a casual and fresh dining experience. This is a time for McDonald’s to persevere and evolve, but a further change to the design needs to be truly progressive.
All imagery from McDonald’s Press Release: http://news.mcdonalds.com/Corporate/Feature-Stories-Articles/2016/A-New-Year-and-A-New-Look-for-McDonald-s-Global-Pa