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From "McBiz" to "McMakeover"

Three years ago, I wrote:

Think about this, which admittedly is purely conjectural:

McDonald's creates a new branding program. They could call it "McRoad," or "McBusiness," or something else, but let's call it "McBiz" for now. McBiz is a sub-brand of McDonald's. There's a McBiz treatment that extends the existing McDonald's logo -- it's subtle, but once you know what to look for, it's easy to spot (though the uninterested might never notice it). When a restaurant switches to the McBiz branding, this indicates a number of things:

  • There's a Wi-Fi access point on premises.
  • There's at least one customer-accessible power outlet per n seats.
  • The coffee served has been upgraded (new brand, new procedures).
  • The restaurant sells the Wall Street Journal (in addition to USA Today).
  • There are at least n monitors playing CNN Headline News (sound off, closed captioned).
  • There's a customer-accessible soda machine.
I'm not much of a McDonald's fan, but if they embarked on such an effort, and made me aware of it, I'd start paying attention to them. Sure, when I'm on the road, I'd rather go to a Starbucks, but if the choice is pull into a McBiz McDonald's now or drive around for 10 minutes looking for a Starbucks, I'll probably choose McDonald's.
Now, three years later, BusinessWeek is out with a story on the new McDonald's store design, "Mickey D's McMakeover":
A comfortable armchair. Cool hanging lights. Funky graphics and photos on the walls. Wi-Fi access. Premium coffee. Isn't Starbucks great? Except... this is McDonald's. McDonald's? That's right. After 30 years without a major design overhaul, the 51-year-old fast-food giant is adopting a hip new look...

What will the new McDonald's look like? "Think iPod: clean lines, simplicity," says [McDonald's vice-president of worldwide architecture, design, and construction, John] Miologos...

The traditional McDonald's yellow and red colors will remain, but the red will be muted to terra cotta and olive and sage green will be added to the mix. To warm up their look, the restaurants will have less plastic and more brick and wood, with modern hanging lights to produce a softer glow. Contemporary art or framed photographs will hang on the walls. Bob Dixon, a private school fund-raiser in Chicago, says of an Oak Brook (Ill.) restaurant that sports the new design: "It's bright, it's lively, it's clean. It stunned me how beautiful it was."

The dining area will be separated into three sections with distinct personalities. The "linger" zone will offer comfortable armchairs, sofas, and Wi-Fi connections. "The focus is on young adults who want to socialize, hang out, and linger," says Dixon. Brand consultant Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a brand consulting firm, says that Starbucks has raised the bar: "A level has been set by Starbucks, which offers the experience of relaxed chairs and a clean environment where people feel comfortable hanging out even if it's just over a cup of coffee."

The "grab and go" zone will feature tall counters with bar stools for customers who eat alone; plasma TVs will offer them news and weather reports. And in the "flexible" zone, families will have booths featuring fabric cushions with colorful patterns and flexible seating. The new design allows different music to be targeted to each zone.

McDonald's McMakeover 1

McDonald's McMakeover 2

They didn't get all of my points, but they're on their way. If they have accessible power outlets -- a subject about which I'm sensitive after traveling through so many outlet-less airports -- I'd say they're off to the races.

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