McDonald’s Minimal Global Packaging Redesign Explained

Monday February 22nd, 2021

Brands tend to reduce their footprint and minimize messaging after substantial growth. That’s not a maxim, or anything. Just an observation. Google, AirBnb, Slack and IBM — are a few that come to mind. But there are hundreds of examples out there. Tech companies have it easy, because their product is imbued with their digital identity.

Food brands on the other hand require great packaging to propel their brand identity. A harmony has to exist between the packaging, the restaurant, and the brand. Check out Burger King’s big rebrand. It’s flat, simple and oozes nostalgia of the 80’s. Now McDonald’s has a new packaging initiative? Clearly they’re competing, right? Of course, they are competing in the literal sense, for our dollars, our mouths and our attention — but why the sudden renewed interest?

We’re exiting the the pandemic, for one. Albeit slowly, and on the heels of the highest mortality rates in the world no less, here at home in the USA. But secondly, the world is changing, and the fast food industry is taking notice and investing like crazy in new food technology. Plant protein is in huge demand.

Plant-based protein versions of the Big Mac and BLT are on the horizon. They’re closer to market than you think, and the fast food industry is about to explode in new varieties of alternative meat offerings. This is a huge deal. But while it’s compelling to vegetarians, and vegans — a large swath of American omnivores are not so easily convinced. To change their minds, you have to change their hearts. Burger King and McDonald’s are shedding the brand equity of the past 20+ years: fast, quick, and greasy — and trading it in for something new, something hopeful, perhaps impossible: fast and good.

That’s a fucking hell of a tall order, I know.

Rand Paul, did it with IBM in 1968. Despite being an immensely complex data organization, hand-built the machines that led us into the information age, and makes continuous breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, the company continues to grow and evolve his simple brand system.

The fast food industry knows there’s an explosive growth potential just waiting to burst with the advent of plant proteins, and they’re laying the groundwork for the next 20-30 years of growth.

Simply put, minimalism is the language that brands foam at the mouth for. It’s the ultimate designation for a successful product in any industry. I mean, just looks at Apple. The pinnacle of minimalism. The pinnacle of success. The champion of Americana. Capitalizing on that language, the fast food industry are willing plant-proteins into the mainstream. Will it work though?

Adweek‘s piece on the packaging redesign has a great quote from the partners at Pearlfisher on the project. Which by the way, spanned nearly 4 years in development:

No matter the region or language, we wanted the packaging design to communicate joyful moments while being immediate and universal.

Hamish Campbell, vp, ecd, Pearlfisher

Universal adoption of a packaging system will be key to success across all of their menu items. But, the packaging is only a small part revealed of a broader effort coming to the global face of the McDonald’s company. I predict we’ll see more and more of this minimal system Pearlfisher constructed very soon. I think we will definitely see plant-proteins and new offerings from McDonald’s coming to the forefront, with classic products like the Big Mac and Filet-o-Fish take a backseat to quickly evolving American fast food tastes.

Beta

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