You have probably noticed drastic renovations occurring at your local McDonald’s in the last few years. Worldwide, the fast food giant distances itself from the playhouse look it was known for in pursuit of an aesthetic that defines the restaurant of the future. Whether the sophistication of modern design suits a restaurant that treats Thousand Island dressing as a secret sauce, the renovations are a case study in rebranding on the largest scale.
Much has already been said about McDonald’s future-forward adjustments, such as digital kiosks and special doors and lobbies for delivery drivers. One element that stands out the most–by design–is the work that has gone into the exteriors of McDonald’s locations across North America. Gone are the rolling golden arches of yore, replaced by a sleek and boxy look that introduces modern black and white finishes alongside the classic red and yellow.
Of the materials used to achieve this look, few are as important as Aluminum Composite Material (ACM). What Big Mac sauce is to the Big Mac, Aluminum Composite Material has been to McDonald’s new aesthetic: innovative, luxurious, and clean.
Aluminum Composite Material cladding is widely used for corporate branding on commercial properties. This article will explore McDonald’s need to rebrand, how Aluminum Composite Material played a critical role in the process, and the result it had on the experience of customers everywhere.
A Changing Business
In a world where a chicken nugget combo can be dropped off at your front door, fast food restaurants have rushed to make their in-restaurant experience one worth crossing the street for. This shift, known as the “experience economy,” calls on businesses to make the event of patronate match or exceed the value of the products customers buy.
People used to joke about “paying for the experience” after buying a six-dollar coffee at Starbucks. Nowadays, this is the norm, and customers expect it. Fast food is no longer a race to hurry customers in and out–that side of the business is covered by delivery, drive-through, and click-and-collect options. By creating a space for people to socialize, work, and relax for long periods, they will be returning to the kiosk for “just another order of fries, please.”
So, what does ACM cladding have to do with all this? As the interiors had to be reimagined, so too did the McDonald’s exterior design. For all the time you have spent inside one of McDonald’s over 38000 locations, you have probably spent more time seeing them from the outside–they are everywhere! In order to rebrand a company as well-known as McDonald’s, it was necessary to make noticeable changes. Bold, glossy, and luxurious ACM panels were the perfect cladding solution to this problem.
Aluminum Composite Material: The Secret Sauce
McDonalds had to adapt. Spending $6 billion in the United States and $1 billion in Canada, McDonald’s continued facelift has been aggressive. Turning to local architects and contractors across North America, the fast food franchising giant got a makeover, one location at a time. The new exteriors, while keeping a playful dash of red and yellow, boast a blend of metal and brick that would make any modern building jealous. In lieu of towering poles that hoist the iconic M, or golden arches, are tall stretches of ACM cladding that pack a sophisticated punch.
These focal points match accents and soffits also composed of ACM paneling. Metal siding and brick elements make a base off which the ACM’s boldness and gloss can pop out to passersby and entice them in for a burger.
Such a description is likely accurate to your local McDonald’s, as consistent material usage has benefited the rebranding efforts. But a drive-through town will show that each location has its unique spin. The beauty of modern cladding materials such as Aluminum Composite Material is their flexibility to a myriad of design possibilities.
By calling on a material, an Aluminum Composite Material that brings design freedom through limitless fabrication, local architects were set loose to create with variation. With this, McDonald’s enjoys the best of both worlds: the reliability that makes the franchise model successful and a uniqueness that can rival the local mom-and-pop joint.
Only a short while ago, a giant M hung atop a sixty-foot pole was all it took to draw hungry customers seeking a quick and predictable bite to eat–to suggest any changes would have been second to blasphemy. But a shifting world puts the onus on the experience, and a successful rebrand would be needed to keep McDonald’s on the cutting edge.
If golden arches–seen from a highway exit away–were a textbook example of branding in the 20th century, the new iconography to study is a big red wall made of ACM.
The personality and culture of the new McDonald’s is felt in its cladding. Its sophistication in dark gray and brown aluminum siding, its cleanliness in white panel soffits, and the golden arches we all remember now framed in the bold red gloss of ACM.
Brand (or Rebrand) Your Business with ACM
If you own, design, or build commercial property, you are likely no stranger to the demands of the new experience economy. With McDonald’s exterior design as an example among many others, cladding is no small element of this great effort. Fortunately, ACM and similar modern cladding products bring the design freedom that successful branding necessitates!
Wiedehopf wants to help you define or redefine your corporate identity through the aesthetic, composition, and finish of your building’s exterior. A leading designer, supplier, fabricator, and installer of ACM in southern Ontario, we can help with every step of your business facelift. To speak to one of our experts about what ACM can do for your commercial property, call our office at 1(905) 761 9791.
A customer’s experience begins with the exterior: Wiedehopf wants to clad your building for success in the modern world.