McDonald’s Changes With the Times to Maintain Value

Founded in 1940, McDonald’s is one of the most recognized brands in the world. Serving approximately 69 million people daily in over 100 countries from more than 36,000 restaurants, McDonald’s is one of the leading fast-food establishments. Like most fast-food places, McDonald’s has had to find new ways to keep up with competition in order to remain a leading brand. As a result, the company has had to make big changes throughout the years. For many companies, this is not unusual. Consumer tastes change, and in order for companies to maintain top status, they have to meet consumer expectations.

In the earlier 1960s, McDonald’s introduced its Ronald McDonald character, a clown complete with its own fantasy world, McDonaldland. Other characters included the Hamburglar, Grimace, Birdie the Early Bird, and the Fry Kids. As a result, the franchise seemed most focused on catering to children. This focus continued for decades as years later in 1979, it introduced the Happy Meal. The Happy Meal gave kids the option of either a hamburger or cheeseburger, French fries, cookies, a soft drink, and a toy. Through the years, other alternatives became available such as chicken nuggets, milk, apples, and yogurt. While the Happy Meal remains a staple for the franchise, it has had to make other improvements to attract more of an adult clientele.

Over time, the franchise has phased out Ronald McDonald, making him more of a charity figure visiting hospitals and attending fundraisers and other events. Gone are the bright yellow and red plastic booths, replaced by more modern seating lines. Today, most McDonald’s restaurants have undergone complete redesigns with more of a business appeal, offering outlets for cell phones and laptops, softer lighting, and free Wi-Fi. With these changes, McDonald’s hopes to attract consumers willing to use the restaurants for business purposes such as conducting work or meetings.

Along with the redesign, McDonald’s has made many changes to its menu over the years. As companies such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts experienced high sales for their gourmet coffee, McDonald’s introduced its McCafe line, which includes items such as iced coffee, hot chocolate, and lattes to keep up with the competition and get its customers to associate it as a meeting place.

Also, McDonald’s has experienced high pressure to introduce healthier options as the global population seeks better eating habits and competition offers fresher ingredients and lower fat alternatives. Therefore, McDonald’s consistently changes its menu to keep up with the latest trends. It offers more salads, grilled chicken, fruit, yogurt, and other healthy alternatives than it ever did before. It also promised to phase out chicken raised with antibiotics and milk containing artificial growth hormones. Each year, it seems McDonald’s tries to add more healthy options.

While healthy options are important to the general public, unique food options in general still draw consumers. This is why McDonald’s experiments with new items all the time, even if they are not the healthiest. They’ve tried introducing mozzarella sticks, several versions of the Big Mac, McRib sandwiches, and even kale at certain locations. While some of its new items remain, they don’t always work. However, it is likely McDonald’s will consistently try new things each year in the hopes of keeping faithful customers happy and attract new customers.

According to Statista, McDonald’s ranks number one for the most valuable fast food brand in the world at an estimated brand value of $88.65 billion. Therefore, with all of its constant changes, McDonald’s must be doing something right!

Five Ways Trademarks Provide Value

Trademarks are some of the most recognizable and valuable intellectual property assets in the world. In fact, trademarks surround us daily. Some of the most popular include Starbucks, UPS, Coca-Cola, Toyota, AT&T, Google, and many more. As you see, trademarks touch nearly all aspects of our lives. How we search online. What we drink. The type of phone service we use. The kind of car we drive. And so much more. Without these trademarks, companies and their products would all blend together, making it difficult to determine which products to buy as consumers. But what really makes trademarks so valuable?

1. Recognition. Trademarks help consumers recognize companies and their products. For instance, much of the population around the world recognizes the golden arches that signify a McDonald’s restaurant. Without the golden arches trademark, McDonald’s would not stand apart from other burger joints. Such recognition cuts down on marketing costs as consumers are more likely to purchase from a trademark or brand they are familiar with.

2. Protection. Trademarks provide explicit protections for brands, slogans, logos, and other similar items. This means that other companies cannot mirror or use these trademarks without paying a penalty. There are no statutory limitations for the life of trademarks, as there are for other types of intellectual property such as patents and copyrights.

3. Positive cash flows. As mentioned earlier, trademarks provide recognition. In turn, this gives companies the ability to reap more benefits as consumers are likely to buy products of recognized brands over generic options or those that are not as well recognized. For instance, consumers are more likely to buy a particular brand of cereal over a generic version, even if the ingredients and tastes are similar.

4. Communication. Trademarks are a great way to communicate to the public. Companies that market well using their trademarks gain the most recognition. For instance, Apple has done a remarkable job of marketing. If it had not marketed its products as well as it has, consumers would not be able to differentiate the technology company versus the fruit. It has done so well that a search online will bring up the technology company before it will the fruit. In the scheme of things, the word “apple” doesn’t naturally conjure up images of technology. The natural image would be the fruit. However, the technology company has done such a superb job of associating its name with its technological products that many people today automatically associate the word with the company and its products.

5. Versatility. Trademarks come in many forms. They can be slogans, logos, business names, phrases, symbols, designs, or images. Even some sounds are trademarked. Therefore, a company can utilize a variety of trademarks to gain traction in the market.

As you can see, trademarks provide many ways that companies can bring value to the market. So much so that the market has valued many brands at literally tens of billions of dollars. Icons such as Coca-Cola, Marlboro, or Nike’s swoosh all represent brands that command a market premium, despite seemingly nonexistent or minimal functional differences among nonbranded products.