Rebranding is just around The Corner for McDonalds

McDonalds has hit the news cycle a couple of times this week and, surprisingly, it has nothing to do with an obesity message. Instead, these stories are slowly detailing a much bigger picture as McDonalds attempts to corner a bigger market share across the board!

The Corner

McDonalds has long been known for its unhealthy image. Those golden arches which resemble the same colour as their chips. The various dessert options from apple pies to McFlurries. And how can you forget the Chicken Nuggets!

But the powers that be have been looking at change for a long time. First came the healthy choices menus. Then the voluntary display of kilojoule counts on menus. And recently they have run a campaign to debunk some of the longstanding myths around McDonalds products shining and brighter and slightly more healthier light on their various offers. Yet the health food crew is a hard demographic to win over, especially when you have a brand steeped in such a rich fat-filled history.

So why not try another group?

Listening to the trends in Melbourne, McDonalds have decided their next move is up. Up market that is!

Previous attempts to cater to this demographic have achieved great success with the McCafe sub-brand garnering a large portion of café market share. However this has changed over the last couple of years as independent cafes are working their ways back and the trendy sub-cultures are championing their cause. And now McCafe is back to a 3% market share as they are unable to compete with the high-end coffee joints.

Their latest strategy is two-pronged. The first element was launched in Craigieburn (I’m still confused as to the choice of this location) on Monday and consisted of a radical change in product offering. Moving towards a mixture between Grill’d and Subway, this offering allows customers to create a custom designed burger via an elaborate touchscreen menu. Then once each diner has ordered there is no longer the need to queue. They are embracing the café experience providing each order with a number to guide your McDonalds host to your choice of sitting location with your fancy burger.

The second element is a touch more sneaky and has been inspired by the old proverb ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’. It is the McDonalds branding that is letting down ventures towards the upper market so they have all but completely removed it in the new strategy which hit on Wednesday. Rebranded ‘The Corner’, this logo only features a very small McCafe at the bottom and provides a new testing ground for products which may be rolled out across McDonalds stores.

This so-called “learning lab”, which has opened in Sydney, resembles any other trendy café of the area while also providing a menu to match featuring Moroccan chicken salad, Chipotle pork and cold-drip coffee. The company line currently rests on this lab being a one-off to allow McDonalds to gain feedback from customers on products that will be rolled out across the stores. But surely they would be nuts not to continue with this new offer!

The removal of any obvious McDonalds/McCafe branding clearly shows that McDonalds is aware of the main barrier into this upmarket category so I would be incredibly surprised if you don’t find The Corner café on a corner near you later in the year.

Sometimes when a brand has been around for such a long time there are associations which are near impossible to change. In those cases, as McDonalds is currently finding out, the best solution is to reinvent yourself through a completely different brand where you can create the connotations you want from scratch!

All the airlines have done it with a different brand for different level travellers, why not bring it to fast food chains?