McDonald’s overhauls packaging with “playful” redesign

The Pearlfisher-designed packaging will be rolled out globally over the next two years, to ensure the fast food restaurant chain has “one consistent look”.

Update 16 Feb 2021: Pearlfisher has been named as the design consultancy behind McDonald’s new look packaging. The work was the result of a “multi-year” effort, according to Pearlfisher, and will now roll out across the world.

Fast food giant McDonald’s has revealed a suite of new packaging designs for its food range, coinciding with the announcement of the McPlant, its first foray into plant-based burgers.

Unveiled this week, the restaurant chain says the new look will be rolled out worldwide within the next two years.

The work has been produced by design consultancy Pearlfisher, with the intention being to place the restaurant chain’s “playful point of view” front and centre.

“Playful winks”

Designs for the new packaging features simplified illustrations relating to each food item, displayed on boxes, wrappers and cups. Packaging for fries, however, remains in its classic red and gold colourway.

The Filet-O-Fish sandwich box uses pared back blue waves, while the Big Mac box depicts a cartoonish version of the sandwich.

Packaging for wrapped sandwiches and bagels is further simplified, using “playful winks” to suggest what the dishes are, McDonald’s says. The Quarter Pounder with Cheese features “melting cheese drips”, for example, and the pastry bag features a “bite missing from the cookie”.

“Our task was finding out what was really special about each menu item to design a system
that would make it easy for others to do the same,” says Pearlfisher creative director Matt Sia. “We aimed to find the most special, recognizable and iconic expression of each [menu item].”

The simple illustrative technique was chosen to enhance the personality of the brand, while also being functional, he adds. Each clamshell, wrapper and pack is designed for ease of assembly by McDonald’s staff.

“One consistent look”

The new designs look set to replace the last visual update for McDonald’s packaging, which was delivered by Boxer in 2016. The studio has also been named as partner agency, among several others, by Pearlfisher for this new work.

At the time, the Chicago-based Boxer team replaced pictograms and illustrations with oversize, colourful graphics and the McDonald’s wordmark.

McDonald’s explains in a statement that the new look has been adopted to fit in with other new experiences on offer from the restaurant chain. It also says that by rolling out the designs worldwide, the aim is to achievement “one consistent look” everywhere.

In 2018 the company made a pledge to make its packaging fully recyclable by 2025.


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  • Ibrahim Ahmed February 16, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    Loving this design but I think the trend of flat design is starting to get a bit too repetitive. I’ve started a design blog,, and cover some of these rebrandings and while doing some research I found that amongst other brands such as burger king have also adopted flat design. McDonald’s is used to standing out so didn’t really expect them to jump on the trend bus but the designs are pretty consistent.

  • Helen Reid February 16, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    Is this really note worthy work?

    Design Week has turned into news for big brand rebrands or an interesting product/service rebrand. Not for notably good work or inspiring innovate design…time design week looks at what they’re posting if they want to keep designers as viewers.

  • Murray Van Der Marel April 25, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    The Maple Leaf on the Golden Arches is great. McDonald’s is one of the largest corporations in the world and to enhance this as individual unity would be to emblazon all of the flags of the countries McDonald’s operates in on their packaging.
    In the world we all live in,never has the call for unity and cooperation been as important as now. I believe each country supplies most of McDonald’s products hence the individuality the unity however small is your sharing a meal with the rest of the world. It may sound crazy why identify a mammoth corporation.
    Simply we need to get closer as humans ,corporations and countries can do it.
    We cannot fix this problem one person at a time we need to start with all the largest corporations in the world and all the countries.
    It could be a beginning.

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