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COP3 - Secondary Research - McDonalds Logo, Colour, Brand

The Complexity of Marketing Sign Systems 

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As a sign system, brand communication is achieved through a complex matrix of signifying elements, including material, structural, conventional, contextual, and performative dimensions. Let me illustrate this reference to the logo for the McDonald’s...

• Material – a visual icon. 

• Structural – golden arches, red background, brand name superimposed on the arches in white, squared font. The arches located to the left of the square so the logo moves off to the right, suggesting movement. 

• Conventional or Codified – the golden arches, the color scheme, and the brand name consistently signify the company and brand offerings for the McDonald’s company. Anywhere in the world, in various languages, this logo tells the consumer that a burger and fries are not far away. (French McDonald’s, on the right) A brand is a system of signs and symbols that engages the consumer in an imaginary/symbolic process that contributes tangible value to a product offering.

• Contextual – The time and place in which the logo is situated contributes to the subjective connotations of this sign system. For example, while some consumers in the U.S. market may associate McDonald’s with cheap, unhealthy fast food, in many markets in the world, such as China, McDonald’s represents a special treat. The contextual environment may also embed brand communication in cultural archetypes and myth, creating either positive or negative associations derived from local interpretations of the message. (Example below)

• Performative – Marketing sign systems engage consumer/spectators in a communication event by means of codes inscribing subject positions for I and you in representation. This dimension is crucial for building brand relationship and for calling the consumer to action, i.e. making a brand choice.

Marketing Semiotics : Signs, Strategies and Brand Values

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Semiotics, The Golden Arches, and Baby McFry

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Semiotics is the study of signs. Roland Barthes is the main theorist of semiotics.He saught to decipher the cultural meaning of visual signs, particularly those perpetuating dominant social values. Before Barthes a swiss theorist designed the components that make up any analysis of a sign, his name was Saussare. Saussare said in every analysis of a sign there is a signified and a signifier.The chapter really explores more of what Barthe called mythologies of the sign, for instance the symbol of the "yellow ribbon". I found it so interesting how it's meaning was deconstructed over time. it still begs the question how did that start? In my search for representative media for semiotics I found much of it dealing with simply the sign and the signifier, and signified, but I am really interested in Barthes idea of the mythology for signs. 

Something I considered comparable to the "yellow ribbon" are the world famous McDonalds "Golden Arches", because in it's simplest form it is really just a letter M, but when it became the golden arches the implications became so much more. It now has a mythology. I think in some ways just the word arches denotes it's like a "wonder of the world" the 8th, right up there with the statue of liberty and the Taj Mahal. it sounds crazy, but it is so engrained in us as actual arches that the word and image have that power. It's really a stroke of advertising genuis. Arches meaning always welcoming, and big enough to house the whole world. This may be going too far but there is also something spiritual, biblical, angelic in the figure of a golden arch, like walking under it will bring health, etc, and to think it's really just an M in the word McDonalds. i think the arches are half of the reason McDonalds is the biggest fast food chain in the world. This is a theory of my own, i guess, and I could not find anything specific linking the arches to semiotics, but just when I'd about given up hope I came across this, baby McFry. So what can we see in this image, what are the signs saying? I think a lot.

Examples Of Semiotics Within Advertising

Semiotics are frequently used within advertising to portray an advertiser's message through the use of signs or symbols. Often there is a visual image used within advertising campaigns to encourage the consumer to buy the product. For example a restaurant at a service station on the motorway may advertise their products on a strategically placed billboard, enticing and encouraging drivers to pay a visit to the services. Placing something as simple as a picture of a dessert on the sign may be just enough to encorage the curiosity or perhaps the appetite of the passerby. McDonalds is a well renown company across the globe, this advertisement below is cleverly designed using symbols and semiotics. We, as consumers instantly recognise the familiar 'M' of the McDonalds sign and it provokes the thought of hunger within our minds. We associate McDonalds with fast, quick, convenient food and therefore when an advertisement like the one below is placed alongside a motorway it encourages us to go in. Red is an intense colour, it instantly catches the eye and is a strategic plan by McDonalds to catch the attention of passers by.

Semiotics within advertising can also be symbol based as apposed to photography. Take a packet of cigarettes for example. There is often a symbol on the back of a packet of cigarettes not only to act as a warning but also a deterrent of smoking. For example their may be a picture of a skull and cross bones, we instantly know that a skull and cross bones means death, danger or some potential hazard. This is what semiotics is all about,creating a visual communication between the consumer and product.

Design Elements of McDonald’s Logo

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The McDonald’s logo is used worldwide to project the meaning intended by the company and also to avoid tarnishing of the company’s proposed picture. McDonald’s logo encompasses the durable characteristics of the food chain.

Shape of McDonald’s Logo

The two golden arches were initially designed to resemble the new arched shaped symbols on the side of the newborn restaurant. Later, the designer of the McDonald’s logo merged the two arches to outline the famed “M” now identified globally. Hence, the McDonald’s logo possesses a simple golden colored “M” which reflects the name of the food chain.

Colour of McDonald’s Logo

Two prominent shades, golden and red, are used in the McDonald’s logo to represent its bold nature. Golden hue is employed to color the two arches, now merged to form “M” in the McDonald’s logo. Nonetheless, the red color is utilized to fill the background of the distinguished McDonald’s logo. Boldness, power and strong corporate image are truly reflected by the use of these two confident colors.

Font of McDonald’s Logo

In spite if the “M” on McDonald’s logo, the insignia also grips the name of the food chain. “McDonald’s” has been imprinted in a thoroughly simple font which defines the bold picture of the firm. The simpler the font of the logo, the more radiant it becomes for the spectator.

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