The Power of McDonalds’ Brand, How They Satisfy Customers, and Their Methods of Persuasion

Branding has many uses and advantages, helping to create a reputation for a company. A brand is defined by de Chernatony and Riley (1997) as “A name, term, sign, symbol or  design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or groups of sellers to differentiate them from those of competitors”. The power of McDonalds’ brand is displayed within their iconic logo, as they conducted research to measure customers’ preferences (Taylor, 2017).

Customers acquire needs from companies, and it is essential that companies provide their customers with sufficient satisfaction. McDonalds are experts at this, as they utilise the ‘Humans and Needs’ model put forth by Batey (2008) which involves utilitarian, experiential, identity and emotional needs. This model relates to Maslow’s (1954) ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ however it is a more complex web of intermingling needs (Frame, 1996).

The manner in which McDonalds meet the utilitarian needs of customers, which has to do with practicality, is how quick they can serve their customers. As one of the leading fast food restaurants in the world, possessing 18,710 restaurants (Tice, 2017), McDonalds have an average service time of 189.49 seconds (QSR magazine, 2017).

The experiential needs which involve stimulation of the consumers’ senses, can be discovered in the example of their ‘Egg McMuffin” tv commercial, where they display seductive, mouth watering close ups of butter melting into the muffin, followed by the complete Egg McMuffin, fresh, steamy and glistening (YouTube, 2017). This is a particularly clever method of the ‘Alpha’ approach of persuasion (Knowles and Riner, 2004) by McDonald’s, as Max Planck researchers neurologically proved that images of delicious food increase the amount of the neurosecretory protein hormone ‘ghrelin’ in the blood, which is responsible for eating behaviours (Schüssler et al, 2017).

McDonalds meets the consumers’ identity needs which is concerned with the affiliation and status that the customer holds with the company. For example someone purchasing clothes from Louis Vuitton seeks a social status representing wealth and success. McDonalds are naturally challenged with this aspect as they sell food on the ‘unhealthy’ side of the nutrition scale (Howlett, 2017). To improve this, McDonalds attempted to divert its image away from ‘fast food’, but rather ‘good food served fast’ (Mail Online, 2014). They further attempted to obtain this new image by introducing their first item containing cucumber, and put forth the option of salad instead of french fries (Mail Online, 2014). This is essential for maintaining the strength of their brand image, as society in general has fast growing fitness trends (Smithers, 2015).

The fourth and final aspect of Batey’s (2008) ‘Humans and Needs’ model, covers the emotional aspect of the relationship between customer and company. This emotive feeling lies deep within the psyche, and can either be conscious or subconscious (Seiter, 2014). One way McDonalds stimulate the emotions of their customers is through tv adverts, one which shows a young black male and an old white male, going through their extremely different daily routines, who subsequently end up at the same place, McDonalds (YouTube, 2017). This advert suggests amalgamation. It is proven that between the options of advertising emotionally or rationally, emotion performs twice as well (Seiter, 2014).

All of these aspects are pertinent for customer satisfaction, as they provide a sense of hedonic happiness (Delle Fave et al., 2010). Although our Amygdala’s and Hippocampus’s (Rational sections of the brain) (Friesen and Woolridge, 2017) acknowledge McDonald’s food isn’t healthy for us, we still experience cravings for them. This is because when we eat fast food, our brain releases a neuro-transmitting chemical called Dopamine, which is responsible for pleasure, so we desire a repeat of that feeling (Gunnars, 2017). This is seemingly the main benefit McDonalds have for satisfying and persuading their customers. Nevertheless, this could be a factor towards the rise in obesity (, 2017), which is why their methods of persuasion tend not to effect me. Their food doesn’t represent me, as I am very much into healthy eating.





  • Batey, M. (2008). Brand meaning. 1st Taylor & Francis Ltd – M.U.A.
  • Eric Knowles and Dan Riner 2004 , 2007- Resistance & Persuasion, & Omega Approaches to Persuasion in Social Influence 2007.
  • Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and personality. 1st ed. New York: Harper.


Journal Articles

  • de Chernatony, L. and Riley, F. (1997). The chasm between managers’ and consumers’ views of brands: the experts’ perspectives. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 5(2), p.90. Available at: (Accessed: 5th March, 2017).
  • Frame, D. (1996). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs revisited. Interchange, 27(1), pp.13-22. Available at: (Accessed: 5th March, 2017).




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