The Story behind the Brand: McDonald’s

With over 39,198 restaurants in over 100 nations, $112 billion in global sales and $23 billion in revenue for 2021, McDonald’s is the largest fast-food restaurant chain in the world.

This is The story behind the brand: McDonald’s.


Inventors Mac and Dick McDonald put the fast in fast-food

The year is 1948 and the McDonald’s brothers, Mac and Dick have just shut down their successful restaurant which they had been operating for eight years for alterations. When they reopened, a few months later, the restaurant became a drive-in and featured an innovative and unique food preparation system – the Speedee Service System.

The Speedee Service System applied the principles of manufacturing production to fast food allowing the drive-in restaurant to cook and deliver its menu faster and therefore cheaper and in high volumes.

The McDonald’s self-service drive-in restaurant had only nine items: hamburger, cheeseburger, soft drinks, milk, coffee, potato chips and a slice of pie. The staple of the menu was the 15 cent hamburger and the staff worked in a conveyor system to serve up dishes. Customers placed their orders and received their meals in less than a minute.

The fast-food restaurant became an instant hit with more demand than they could supply. Which led the brothers to begin franchising their concept.


Ray Kroc, the man with the business vision

In 1954, salesman Ray Kroc was having a hard time selling multimixers, five-spindle milkshake-mixing machines. Ray was ambitious, successful and willing to work hard.

For a good period of time, the multimixer sales had been booming. Unfortunately, this would soon change. When people began leaving the cities for the suburbs, his restaurant clients closed and sales plummeted. Now no one was ordering the multimixer. Except for a drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California which had recently called to have 8 multimixers delivered.

Ray is intrigued and pays the restaurant a visit. Mac and Dick McDonald show Ray the business. When the seasoned salesman sees the Speedee Service System, he quickly recognizes its huge potential. The brothers told Ray they were looking for a nationwide franchising agent. Without skipping a beat, Ray jumps at the opportunity and signs the franchise contract. He immediately sets an ambitious goal: to open 1,000 McDonald’s from coast to coast.


The McDonald’s success ingredient: one system to deliver the same values worldwide

Ray opened his first McDonald’s in 1955 in a Chicago suburb and sold 18 franchises in the first year in business. He fully understood that if the drive-in restaurants were to be successful, the franchisees had to implement the McDonald’s method to a tee.

To ensure this, Ray developed a 75-page manual that outlined every aspect of running a self-service drive-in McDonald’s restaurant.

“In business for yourself, but not by yourself.”
Ray Kroc

He soon realized that if the franchisees were to be successful, the location of the McDonald’s restaurants was of utmost importance. To support the business and the franchisees, Ray paired the hamburger selling business with a real estate business. He set up a company that would purchase or lease the land on which all McDonald’s restaurants would be located.

Today the company has clear guidelines on the required characteristics of the best location for a McDonald’s restaurant:

  • 50,000+/- sq. ft.
  • Corner or corner wrap with signage on two major streets
  • Signalized intersection
  • Ability to build up to 4,000 sq. ft.
  • Parking to meet all applicable codes
  • Ability to build to a minimum height of 23′ 4″


Ray Kroc buys the McDonald brothers out of the business

Like any savvy businessman, Ray is always looking for ways to maintain value, increase revenue and cut costs. To achieve this, he talks to the brothers about changes he wanted to make to the McDonald’s Method; the brothers are unflinching and Ray’s proposals are rejected. Mac and Dick and their lack of business vision soon become an obstacle in Ray’s path to fulfilling his ambitious goals for McDonald’s.

He tells the brothers that he wants full control over the business and asks them to propose a buy-out price. They ask for $2.7million. Ray agrees and acquires the rights to the McDonald’s business in 1961.

McDonald’s thrives thanks to its unique view on doing business: the Three-Legged Stool philosophy

The company’s core values are Quality, Service, Cleanliness, and Value. These values can be successfully upheld only if McDonald’s franchisees, suppliers and employees work together in unison. They are the three legs that support the business.

Leadership lessons from McDonald’s success story:

  • Innovation. McDonald’s owes its global success to the innovation of its founders, brothers Mac and Dick McDonald. They realized that they could serve their customers better if they provided delicious food and faster service than their competitors by building a custom food preparation system.
    Create a unique way of catering to your customers’ needs.
  • Ambitious business vision. Ray Kroc saw the potential of the McDonald’s system and amplified it. Ray’s business vision and business-building skills are the driving force behind McDonald’s fast-growing national and international footprint.
    Dream big and write a plan to see your dream come true.
  • System first. The McDonald’s franchisees can easily replicate the restaurant’s worldwide success by following its guidelines and implementing its systems. When you’ve achieved your goal once, create a system so you can achieve it every time.

Info source, all images credit: McDonald’s

Images source: McDonald’s on Facebook and Twitter

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2019 Webby Awards – 3 Winners in Brand Strategy & Experience Marketing

Established in 1996, The Webby Awards is honouring the best of the internet.

The 23rd Annual Webby Awards received 13,000 entries from 70 countries and all 50 states and generated over 9 billion media impressions worldwide.

Here are 3 winning campaigns in the Brand Strategy & Experience Marketing categories:

1. Burger Kingthe Whopper Detour

The competition between Burger King and McDonald’s began over sixty years ago. With the advent of the internet, these two giant fast-food restaurant chains brought their rivalry into digital. Both Burger King and McDonald’s have entered the creative race where each of them is looking for the next most creative marketing campaign to earn media buzz, fans attention and sales.

The Whopper Detour campaign is a great example of beacon marketing.

Beacon marketing is a form of communication between brands and their consumers based on beacon technology.

You can read all about this technology here: How can Beacon Digital Marketing Help Your Retail Business Thrive?

Using this technology, Burger King essentially turned 14.000 McDonald’s locations into Burger King restaurants.

Pretty smart, right?

According to official statements, it took Burger King almost a year to prepare the promotion. The campaign is entirely reliant upon technology (beacon technology, the app) so it was vital to the campaign’s success that everything goes smoothly.

Campaign goal:

Get people to download the Burger King app.

Campaign results:

  • 50.000 Twitter mentions;
  • Going from #686 to #1 in the app charts in 48 hours;
  • 1.5 million downloads in 9 days;
  • 3.3 billion impressions;
  • Mobile sales 3x during promotion and 2x after the promotion ended;
  • Highest store traffic in 4 years.

The Whopper Detour campaign won in the Advertising & Media Category for Brand Strategy.

2. One Strange Rock – Astronaut Reality Brand Experience

One Strange Rock is a TV-series documentary filmed by Hollywood movie director Darren Aronofsky and hosted by Will Smith.

The documentary explores the fragility and wonder of planet Earth by following eight astronauts who share their unique perspective on our planet.

But this experience is quite exclusive, isn’t it? Only 536 people have been to space.

To launch the show, the team at McCann NY asked themselves the following question: what could we do to allow other people – people who will never be astronauts – to enjoy a similar experience?

Learn more: These 7 Brands Used Augmented Reality Creatively

To answer this question they came up with the Astronaut Reality Helmet, which provides users with one-of-a-kind VR space experience.

Campaign goal:

Raise media attention.

Campaign results:

  • 312 million impressions;
  • 47 pieces of press coverage;
  • over 457 social shares;
  • 1.27 billion readers online;
  • One Strange Rock viewership was 13% higher than the channel’s non-fiction average performance.

The Astronaut Reality Brand Experience won the People’s Choice Award in the Experience Marketing category.


There are digital influencers on Instagram with millions of followers promoting real-life clothes. Miquela, a non-human influencer is one example. 

How about real-life influencers promoting digital clothes?

Norwegian retailer Carlings took this idea and turned it into reality.

The brand designed a digital clothing line to illustrate its brand values: sustainability and fashion creativity. The clothing line is a collaboration between the brand and CGI model Perl and includes various fashion pieces: jeans, vests, jackets and coats at prices ranging between 10 euro to 30 euros.

With this digital line of clothes – called Neo-Ex, Carlings helps its customers share their style online – via 3D rendering – without leaving a negative footprint on the world.

With this project, we wish to challenge ourselves and the entire industry into taking the next step. We really believe it’s an interesting issue to address – do all clothes need to be physical?


Campaign goal:

Raise awareness of water consumption in the clothing industry

Campaign results:

  • +25 pieces of press coverage;
  • +10k impressions for the Instagram post announcing the launch of the clothing line.

The ADDRESS_THE_FUTURE campaign won the Webby Award in the Experience Marketing category.

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