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

Looking to learn from the success stories of famous brands?

Subscribe to our newsletter!

The Story behind the Brand: LACOSTE

Lacoste – a global clothing brand born in 1933, on the tennis court

Worth $1 billion, Lacoste is a high-end men’s and women’s ready-to-wear clothing brand with a legacy extending over 88 years.

Originating in France, the prestigious brand has almost 1,100 stores around the world, including more than 500 in Asia and the Asia Pacific (Statista).

Lacoste was founded by René Lacoste, a 29-year old French tennis player nicknamed The Crocodile.

This is his story.

René Lacoste, the best tennis player in the world (1927-1928)

A gifted student at the Polytechnic School in Paris, René is very passionate about tennis, spending almost all his time playing tennis.

His passion finally led him to abandon his studies and work hard on achieving his dream – becoming the best tennis player in the world.


René Lacoste (image credit and source: Lacoste)

René is not particularly talented. But what he lacks in talent, he makes up for in strategy.

A brilliant mind, René studies the game and his opponents to find game strategies to wear them out and beat them on the court. His undeterred determination and will of steel give him an ace up his sleeve in all his matches.

Playing against the US national tennis champion Bill Tilden, René returns all his shots implacably. After losing to Lacoste in 1927, Tilden remarked, “I never played better. That Frenchman is a machine.” 

Training tirelessly to hone his strength, precision and concentration, René went on to win seven major singles tournaments and achieve his dream. He was part of The Four Musketeers, the winning French team that took the Davis Cup in 1927 and 1928.

I was not incredibly talented or very robust, but I was an inventor and I could invent shots that bothered my opponents.

René Lacoste

The Lacoste crocodile was born on the tennis court

In 1923, René was a young tennis prodigy, only 19. He was playing for Team France at the Davis Cup competition which was held in Boston, USA. An American sports journalist watched René playing on the tennis court. His style made a big impression on the journalist: he was tenacious, relentless and “chewed up his opponents slowly”, just like a crocodile.

René liked the nickname so much, starting in 1927, he had it embroidered on his blazers and tennis shirts.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lacoste (@lacoste)

René Lacoste designed the comfortable polo shirt

Before Lacoste, tennis meant long-sleeve shirts, pleated trousers and belted waists. In his effort to optimize his game and be the best he could be on the court, he defied the conventional tennis attire and designed a new polo shirt.

René’s polo shirt had short sleeves and was made of Petit Piqué, a finely honeycombed fabric that enables air to circulate freely. Breathable and lightweight, this fabric ensures comfort, ease of movement and elegance.

Inventor of the tennis ball machine and the steel tennis racket

Training hard to become the best in the world, René was looking for ways to improve his game and techniques. So he invents the tennis ball machine, a device that fires tennis balls with calibrated force to help a player practice alone. Eighty years later, tennis players still use the tennis ball machine to train.

René Lacoste and his tennis ball machine (image credit and source: Lacoste)

The metal tennis racket is also one of René’s famous inventions. In his time, tennis players played with wooden rackets. Unsatisfied with his racket, René sculpted the handle and covered it with surgical tape to get a better grip.

Rene’s new design for the tennis racket (image credit and source: Lacoste)

As a true visionary, he patented a shock absorber inserted between the strings on rackets in 1960, followed by a steel racket in 1963. The steel tennis racquet was bought by Wilson and went on to win 46 Grand Slam titles between 1966 and 1978. He continued to innovate, filing more than thirty patents over his lifetime.

Inventor! If I had to print a title on my business card, this would be it. I have been inventing all my life.

René Lacoste

From international tennis player to a brilliant brand builder

In 1929, and at the age of just 24, Lacoste was forced to hang up his racket due to respiratory disease. He couldn’t play tennis any longer, but that was okay because his greatest asset was not his talent, but his mind.

Four years later, he founded Lacoste Company with André Gillier and brought his polo shirt from the tennis court to high street shops.

The Lacoste polo shirt was instantly recognizable by the crocodile embroidered above the heart which makes Lacoste the first brand to display a visible logo on an article of clothing.

Lacoste in 2021 – innovation marks the return of the crocodile

This year, Lacoste introduced AG-LT21 Ultra, an innovative shoe designed to promote speed, stability and agility on the court. The shoe is based on technologies developed by the House which ensure stability and energy return, rebound to support all the movements and Goodyear rubber for optimal grip on all surfaces.


Lacoste AG-LT21 Ultra (image credit and source: Lacoste)

With this performance shoe, Lacoste is renewing its historic commitment to top-level athletes and the production of high-performance footwear.

Looking to read more stories about your favourite brands?

Subscribe to our newsletter!

BRAND MINDS premium announcements straight to your inbox

Subscribe and get 5% discount for tickets

    You agree to our terms and conditions.

    OK, I agree to receive the BRAND MINDS newsletter with information from industry leaders and business experts. The content is related to ultimate technologies, marketing trends and updates about BRAND MINDS events.

    OK, I agree to receive the latest info and offers for BRAND MINDS events when I am surfing on other websites as well. For this, I agree to allow cookies and other online digital marketing tools to personalize site content, social media features and to analyze the traffic by sharing my navigation status with BRAND MINDS SRL advertising and social media partners such as, but not limited to, Meta, LinkedIn and Google.

    × WhatsApp Help