Responses by Turner Duckworth
Background: McDonald’s challenged us to rethink its visual identity by shifting from a basic set of rules to a dynamic, inspirational system. The visual identity will be used in 120 countries by a multitude of creative partners across every media channel and over 35,000 restaurants—and experienced by millions of people of all walks of life every single day.
Reasoning: The Golden Arches is one of the most recognizable graphics in the world, but always under-utilized throughout the previous system. To elevate the Golden Arches’ presence, we developed a system called “Archery” to unlock its potential and use it in exciting new ways. We also partnered with Dalton Maag to develop a custom typeface, Speedee. We drew inspiration from the form of the Golden Arches and the McDonald’s wordmark. With just three weights and a single custom font, McDonald’s serves up a consistent voice across the globe—from playful campaigns to internal presentations.
Challenges: The new system is equal parts discipline and flexibility, and we needed to ensure that the guidance supported this approach. We strayed from creating the traditional 200 plus page PDF brand guideline and introduced the idea of Cheatsheets, a small set of inspirational, information-rich pages. We also introduced the McDonald’s Digital Design Hub, which houses the Cheatsheets, additional details and downloadable brand assets, and also showcases creativity from around the world for everyone to celebrate and learn from.
Favorite details: Being able to unlock the potential of the Golden Arches, and how Speedee turned out. The product illustrations also reflect the details of the food itself—the meltiness of the cheese, the tapered ends of the fries, the sprinkled arrangement of sesame seeds and the order of the layers of ingredients. We further abstracted details of the food through various playful patterns that are displayed across digital applications like kiosks and social media. You’ll also see them popping up across branded apparel and events.
Time constraints: From start to finish, the visual identity came together within ten months. This could not have happened without the partnership of our client team. It’s an incredible effort to make big internal shifts in any business—much less one with as much global presence as McDonald’s—but thanks to our client team, the organization has made huge steps toward being the goal of being much more creative-led.
Anything new: Going through this process reinforced our stance on a streamlined, yet inspirational visual identity. Due to the size of the McDonald’s brand, there would be a range of needs and the system had to be cohesive enough to reflect the larger brand, but flexible enough to support requirements from the different markets.