Who created the McDonald’s logo? We review the history and origin of the McDonald’s logo.
If we talk about the yellow “M”, you will surely know what brand it is. That’s why the McDonald’s logo is one of the ten most recognized logos in the world, along with a bitten apple, a crocodile and four circles together. They are icons that come to mind in an instant and, apart from identifying companies, they represent values such as innovation, effort, youth or joy.
But … who created the McDonald’s logo? Who was the artist who designed a globally recognized icon? Like many of the logos of the time, it was designed by chance, by someone who decided at the right time to use that symbol to represent their company. And globalization did the rest. Today we are going to find out who designed the McDonald’s logo.
A bit of McDonald’s history
Before, let’s know a little history of the brand. McDonald’s is a fast food franchise based in Chicago, Illinois. Globally, it serves 69 million customers in more than 36,000 establishments in 118 countries.
It all started in 1940 when Dick and Mac McDonalds opened their first McDonald’s restaurant on Route 66 in San Bernardino, California. The menu had 20 items, where barbecue meat prevailed under the claim of “McDonald’s Famous Barbecue.”
8 years later, the brothers closed the restaurant to create and implement an innovative quick service system to be able to sell hamburgers at 15 cents, half the price of their competitors. It reopened under the name “McDonald’s Famous Hamburgers” where they only sold hamburgers, shakes and fries to become a resounding success.
In 1953, the McDonald brothers began creating restaurant franchises. The first one that was opened was in charge of Neil Fox, but the one that interests us is the second restaurant, opened in Phoenix, Arizona, which was the first to use the logo based on the golden arches. This one also had an original mascot that was a man with a chef’s hat on top of a hamburger-shaped head. His name was “Speede”. Currently, the third restaurant to be opened, in Downey, California, is the oldest still in operation.
The origin of the McDonald’s logo, an accident more than a design
In 1952, Dick and Mac met with architect Stanley Clark Meston and his assistant Charles Fish in Los Angeles. The commission was to design a roadside restaurant that could become a franchise. Dick sketched two semicircles thinking that they would look good at either end of the structure, drawing the attention of motorists.
Stanley Clark Meston went to work to carry out the commission. He had previously worked as a set designer at Universal Studios and was the architect of typical motorist restaurants in the 1930s. Meston turned Dick’s semicircles into a pair of 7.6-meter-high metallic and gold parables with neon lights.
It quickly became an iconic restaurant as the franchises opened, being an easily identifiable restaurant for drivers, which Dick had sought.
Establishing the corporate image for the world leap
In the 1960s, McDonald’s went wild, opening their 500th restaurant in Ohio and two years later their 1000th restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois. The McDonald’s brothers decide to redirect their marketing strategy and direct their products to children and families. To do this, they dispense with the hitherto mascot, Speede for that of a clown who, played by Willard Scott, would give life to Ronald McDonald.
It is also decided to create a new, more elegant logo to update its image. Jim Schindler, then responsible for design at McDonald’s, was based on the popular arches created by Stanley Clark Meston for his restaurants, known to all. It was Jim Schindler who created the McDonald’s logo, playing with the arches to create the letter “M” for McDonald’s and incorporating the word “McDonald’s” into it. A logo that as soon as you saw it felt recognizable by the brand, and that is that the orientation of the arches in the restaurant and its neon yellow color was easily identifiable as a McDonald’s. Jim simplified and established the iconic arches as the official McDonald’s logo.
With its corporate image established and thousands of restaurants across the country, McDonald’s went global, opening franchises in other countries. The first McDonald’s opened outside the United States was in Canada. In 1971, the first McDonald’s in Asia opened in the Ginza district, Tokyo. The same year the first restaurant in Europe opened in Holland and in 1976, a McDonald’s in New Zealand.
McDonald’s currently serves 69 million customers in more than 36,000 stores in 118 countries. Its logo is one of the ten most recognized logos in the world, along with those of Coca-Cola, Apple and Google. It has undergone few redesigns, always simplifying its concept, until reaching the one they did in 2006 in which the golden “M” is sufficient as a symbol for the company around the world. Later they added the red background to keep up with the times.