Vox pop

Diageo’s attempt to sell off Burger King collapsed last week and McDonald’s says it will introduce restaurant booths and waiter service to tackle sliding sales. Can design do anything to beef up their brand images or are these fast food chains fundamentally out-of-joint?

‘Both McDonald’s and Burger King have had fantastic success in the fast food market for years. They have also protected and extended their brands, but finally remain “burger chains”. The consumer is asking for new, fresh, healthy options and the burger “label” will find that difficult to deliver to. Design is not a panacea – more a brick in the wall and if the product wall is crumbling, design alone will not prevent it. New product innovation and design might.’

David Pocknell, Principal, Pocknell Studio.

‘Frankly, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves how important we [designers] are and our work is, it is irrelevant when you start to discuss the issues facing the McDonald’s and Burger King brands. The backlash against rampant global Americanisation, intensive farming and aggressive capitalism, together with the increased awareness of maintaining a healthy diet, means that these giants face a difficult future. Can design do anything to beef up these fast food whoppers? What a load of bull.’

David Mason, Creative director, HMS

‘I don’t think a knee-jerk design project will be an effective solution for either of these troubled brands. They need to re-evaluate their core offer by considering their consumers’ real needs and the new competition they face. Only then should they brief design solutions as part of a wider brand repositioning exercise.’

Lavinia Culverhouse, Managing director, Design

House Consultants

‘McDonald’s and Burger King have had huge success, but their environmental images are now out of sympathy with the market. Customers are now looking for a new experience: one that’s different, aspirational and accommodates their changing needs. McDonald’s and Burger King must recreate the uniqueness and brand values that have been lost. Design and innovation can dramatically change a business, but for it to work the business must want to change. Tinkering out the edges of their design will not tackle the critical need to create branded environments that will re-establish these businesses’ values.’

Ian Sherman, Chairman of interiors and architecture,

Corporate Edge

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