Rituals and Symbols of McDonald’s Corporation


Ritualsand Symbols of McDonald’s Corporation

Ritualsand Symbols of McDonald’s Corporation

Differentartifacts used by organizations to present themselves to the societyhave different means and can be interpreted by the society in variousways. The company’s logo, building, and the space design are someof the key features that give a clear picture of the company. Thispaper will analyze McDonald’s Corporation in light of the keyelements of the communication observations matrix.


TheMcDonald’s logo is designed with two stylized two half circles thatare painted with yellowish color to represent golden arches. The twoarches seem to form letter M when viewed from certain angles. Thelogo is lifted on a red trapezoid that features the company’s brandname. Letter M is a symbolic representation of the first letter ofthe company name McDonald. The letter M is usually presented on redbackground color, but other colors (such as dark green in theEuropean countries) may be used (Mac, 2013, p. 1). The size of theconspicuous letter M makes it easy to identify even in the busystreets and during the night. The golden color of the arches is asuitable representation of a globally recognized brand. Themanagement has been changing the logo over time in order to ensurethat it reflects the changing market conditions.

Figure1: McDonald’s logo

Source:Sagar, 2003 (p. 1).

Reasonsfor being

McDonald’sis a chain of restaurants that sells fast foods, includingcheeseburgers, chicken, hamburgers, milkshakes, French fries,breakfast items, desserts, fish, fruits, fish, and salad among others(Bruce,2011, p. 1-2). McDonald’slogo has become a commonplace in many parts of the world, includingin Australia. Due to its popularity, the McDonald’s Corporation isperceived as synonymous with fast food. The logo serves as a symbolof business expansion at an international level, which the closeassociation of McDonald’s with American makes the logo a symbol ofthe spread of the American culture (including the dietary habits) toother parts of the world (Fisher,2014, p. 2). Thebig letter M created by merging the two golden arches represents thename of the company. The two prominent shades (red and golden) aresymbols of the bold nature, strength, and power of McDonald’s chainof restaurant. Although McDonald’s is commonly known for fastfoods, the management has become more conscious with the ongoingconcept of eating healthy. Consequently, McDonald’s has startedselling health food options (such as salad, vegetables, fruits, andmild products) in order to take advantage of the ongoing changes inthe food industry (Rosamilio, 2013, p. 1).

Marketand identity

Marketingplays a key role of attracting customers’ attention to the productsof a given company, while identity serves as an inherent and arelational feature of the organization, which is self-reflective(Ravasi,2006, p. 437). Similarly McDonalds uses different marketingstrategies to build its globally recognized brand. The “I’mlovin’ it” is one of the most popular slogans used in McDonald’smarketing campaigns. The slogan is, in most cases demonstratedtogether with company’s logo as shown in Figure 3. The slogansymbolizes the celebration of life at McDonald’s. The presentationof the slogan together with the logo illustrates McDonald’s as asource of enthusiasm, optimism, enriching discoveries, and greattimes that customers enjoy at McDonald’s. The extensive marketingstrategy is part of McDonald’s plan to counter competition fromemerging restaurants and ensure that the company protects its marketshare amidst the changes in the market.

Figure3: McDonald’s marketing slogan

Source:McDonald’sCorporation (2014, p. 1)


Rightfrom the first page, the website of McDonald’s represents itself asa specialist in the fast food industry. The website presents a seriesof pictures of delicious fast food products with an option for theweb visitors to read more about each product (McDonald’sCorporation, 2014, p. 1). Someof the key details of the fast food products include the prices,ingredients, and different sizes available. Presentation of coloredpictures of food products and their prices creates an impression thatMcDonald’s is the best seller of the fast food products and offersthe lowest prices for high quality products.

History(self representation)

TheMcDonald’s Corporation was started by the two McDonald brothers in1948 before diversifying geographically to the current over 30,000locations (McDonald’sCorporation, 2014, p. 1). Initially,the restaurant sold burgers before venturing in a wide range of fastfoods. Over the years, the company has undergone several changes,including the change of ownership, logos, and the range of products.McDonald’s sponsors different events (including the Children andfamily fin days and football tournaments), but most of them are meantfor fun and entertainment (Berkin,2010, p. 1-3). This reflects the identity of McDonalds as a source ofenthusiasm and a provider of great times to the society.

McDonald’shistory by others

Theestablishment and the rapid spread of the McDonald’s chain ofrestaurants are closely associated with the American eating habitsand changes in the American lifestyle. According to Berkin(2010, p. 1) the history of McDonald’s gives an insight intoinnovations that reformed the fast-food industry by changing theeating habits of Americans and the world at large. McDonald’shistory is revisited quite often given the significant role that theworld largest chain of restaurant has played in the fast foodindustry. Currently, many people in places like the United States andAustralia see the McDonald’s logo as a synonym of fast food(Fisher,2014, p. 1).


Themedia, especially the newspapers represent both the negative ad thepositive sides of the McDonald’s corporation. On the positive side,the media represent McDonald’s as one the leading restaurants thathave managed to change the food values in the fast food industrythrough research and established relationship with the stakeholder(Fujitsu, 2013, p. 1). On the negative side, the media showMcDonald’s as one of the companies that violate the rights of theirworkers through underpayment and long-working hours (Detroit, 2012,p. 1). This implies that the media have given the true picture ofMcDonald’s without bias.

Representationof McDonald’s Corporation in the society

McDonald’sCorporation represents itself as a fast food restaurant that addressmost of the dietary needs of the busy society that has little or notime to cook. The company takes pride in its past achievements andstates that it has successfully provided its customers with enjoyableexperiences, participated in community activities (Carroll, 2009, p.1). This implies that McDonald’s represents itself as a companythat address the dietary needs as well as issues affecting the dailyliving of the society. The society, on the other hand, considersMcDonald’s as a company that spreads the America eating habits anddisregards the rights of its employees(Fisher,2014, p. 1)

Ritualand rites of passage

Theprimary role of rituals is to reveal what an organization considersto be important (Higgins, 2006, p. 404). McDonald’s has one majorritual that is valued because of its symbolic significance. First,the company holds an annual Mc Happy Day in which a percentage ofproducts are sales is dedicated for charitable work. Individuals canbecome part of the McDonald’s Corporation by securing employment orbuying its shares. Although McDonald’s Corporation has receivedcomplaints about the rudeness of some employees to customers in thepast, it has applied sufficient efforts to address specific needs ofthe clients. For example, McDonald’s launched a Moms advisoryprogram with the objective of understanding the feelings, brandperception, and needs of this market segment. This shows thatMcDonald’s corporation is in the process of strengthening itsrelationship with its customers and manages changes in the market,which require companies to take care of their relationships withcustomers in order to avoid losing the market share to competitors.

Inconclusion, McDonalds Corporation has a lot of rituals and symbolsthat are represented in its events, logo, and other artifacts.Although McDonald’s has successfully managed to present itself in apositive way to the society, there still some people who see thecompany as an oppressor of workers. Its tactical strategies haveallowed to be ranked as the leading fast food restaurant globally,which has made the name McDonald’s be perceived as a synonym offast foods.

Listof references

Berkin,C., Miller, C., Cherny, R., Gormly, J., Egerton, D., 2010. MakingAmerica: A history of the United States brief.Stanford, CT: Cengage Learning.

Bruce,H., 2011. McDonald’s testing seasoned fries. USAToday.[Online] Available at: &lthttp://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/05/08/mcdonalds-french-fries-fast-food-restaurants/8857099/&gt[Accessed 15 August 2014].

Carroll,B., 2009. McDonald’s connects with employees and consumers.ConsumerRock.[Online] Available at: &lthttp://customersrock.net/2009/01/27/mcdonalds-connects-with-employees-and-customers/&gt[Accessed 15 August 2014].

Detroit,F., 2012. Workers locked in freeze for three hours after MichiganMcDonald’s robbed. TheAustralian News.[Online] Available at: &lthttp://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/workers-locked-in-freezer-for-three-hours-after-michigan-mcdonalds-robbed/story-fn3dxity-1226262181429?nk=d5d8c193516779b3119deb913308683a&gt[Accessed 15 August 2014].

Fisher,M., 2014. McDonald’slogo has become a symbol of democracy in Thailand and McDonald’shates it. Washington,DC: Vox Media Incorporation.

Fujitsu,N., 2013. McDonald’s: Addressing changing food values throughmarket research. AustralianFinancial Review.[Online] Available at: &lthttp://www.afrbiz.com.au/companies/mcdonald-s.html&gt[Accessed 15 August 2014].

Higgins,M., Mcallaster, C., Certo, C. and Gilbert, P., 2006. Using cultureartifacts to change and perpetuate strategy. Journalof Change Management,6 (4), 397-425.

Mac,B., 2013. McDonald’s famous Barbecue. Legopedia. [Online] Availableat: &lthttp://logos.wikia.com/wiki/McDonald%27s&gt[Accessed 14 August 2014]

McDonald’sCorporation, 2014. Live it: Love it. McDonald’sCorporation.[Online] Available at: &lthttps://www.mcdonalds.com.sg/our-story/the-brand/im-lovin-it/&gt[Accessed 15 August 2014].

Ravasi,D. and Schiltz, M., 2006. Responding to organizational identitythreats: Exploring the role of organizational culture. Academyof Management Journal,49 (3), 433-458.

Rosamilio,R., 2013. Want a salad with your burger? McDonald’s to offerhealthy alternative to fries. DailyNews.[Online] Available at: &lthttp://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/mcdonald-offer-fruit-salad-sides-article-1.1469468&gt[Accessed 15 August 2014].

Sagar,J. 2003. Thestory behind the McDonald’s logo.Bath: Creative Blog.

Yihe,H., 2011. Arch rivals: McDonald’s sues Beijing restaurant overlogo. WantChina Times.[Online] Available at:&lthttp://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20111018000045&ampcid=1302&gt[Accessed 15 August 2014].