McDonald’s Goes Bold With Type-Based Package Design

By the end of 2016, McDonald’s packaging will have a whole new look. The chain will roll out to its 15,000 U.S. restaurants bags, cups and sandwich containers featuring a new look that it hopes will attract millennials. The change is aimed at a generation which appreciates good and fashionable design but also demands simplicity. “The packaging is intended to create noticeable change for our customers and I’m hoping it makes them feel better about their choice of going to McDonald’s,” says Matt Biespiel, Senior Director of Global Brand Development at McDonald’s. “Unlike other [branding] categories, you receive packaging after you’ve already made the purchase. The thought for me is, this is about reinforcing the purchase decision — having people feel good about walking down the street holding our bag.”

McDonald’s invited more than a dozen designers from agencies throughout the world to work on the project. The team came up with initial concepts, interviewed customers, then refined the design. During the process, they experimented with many approaches, from illustration to photography and logo-based treatments. “As we went through the process and iterations and as we brought consumers into that process of co-creating the designs with us, more and more what we heard from consumers is be true, be bold, be McDonald’s,” Biespiel explains. That led the designers to a type-based concept using a bespoke version of Helvetica that comprises the company wordmark. Once this was settled, Chicago-based firm Boxer Brand Design was tasked with applying the design across the entire portfolio.

All the items are emblazoned with bright pink, acid greed, neon orange, red, and sky blue key words: McDonald’s, Big Mac, Fries, and the like. Bags feature exaggerated golden arches that wrap around the front and side. “McDonald’s is a fun and modern brand and this was a progressive way to turn our packaging into art and support a community where fashion is an expression,” notes Biespiel. McDonald’s is also revamping packaging to move closer to sustainability goals it promised in 2014. It aims to have 100% of its fiber-based packaging from recycled or certified sustainable sources by 2020, and the brown bags — changed from white — are said to help in this effort.