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Branding Minus the Brand
By: Janet Kalandranis
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It’s pretty obvious that any branding strategy should probably include the actual brand in its tactics. Otherwise, there could be customer confusion and success driven towards another business instead of the intended. It would be pretty ridiculous to see any sort of initiative that leaves out the name or likeness of a brand. Unless that brand is McDonald’s; no branding is necessary. Or at least the company thinks so. McDonald's latest campaign in Paris includes up-close shots of iconic McDonald’s items but leaves out any “M” logo, any tagline, and any words. It’s food porn that’s working for the business and reminding customers exactly what this brand is all about. But don’t be fooled; this isn’t a strategy that can work for all brands, but only those that are easily recognized by their products and have a long-term backing to take this risk.

Imagine the conversation when this strategy was proposed to the team. “So this print campaign will have no logos, taglines, or even words in it?” There was probably silence after that statement was made. This bold-move campaign by McDonald’s assumes (and rightly so) that customers will automatically recognize its core products and that in itself is all the branding that is needed. And of course this only works because McDonald’s is an easily recognizable brand, one that has spent years growing its iconic nature and taking customers along for the ride. If any brand is able to pull off this type of campaign it is definitely the golden arches. It might seem like too simple an idea to gain any traction, but that’s almost the beauty of what the brand is trying to achieve. Make it simple, take it back to the core products, and leave the extra fluff for another time. It’s simple, yet genius.

The way this campaign is executed allows McDonald’s to showcase its products in the way it believes they should be remembered. It’s bringing back the beauty of the classic red box with French fries and reminding customers exactly what makes them love this brand. McDonald’s has spent the last five years talking about product and menu and lifestyle, and now it’s time for the brand to just sit back and let customers infuse those messages with simple images of the brand’s food. Sure, some people will hate this strategy for its lack of creativity or because McDonald’s food shouldn’t be glorified in these shots, but it also gets a core group of customers reminiscing about the tastes and flavors and memories the brand creates. It’s branding without mentioning a single brand and hoping customers appreciate the reminder of where it all started and where the focus still is today.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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