As the number one fast food restaurant in the world, McDonald’s has one of the most ubiquitous logos. Since the restaurant was founded in 1940, its logo has undergone quite a few changes. Though the precise shape and color of the logo change regularly, all versions since the 1960s have contained the signature golden arches. Keep reading this article to find out more about how this iconic logo came into being.
McDonald’s Logo Design Elements
The current incarnation of the McDonald’s logo has only been in use since 2006, but it is quite similar to older logos. It is a very simple design that only contains one color. This logo is two yellow arches joined together to look like an “M.”
The bottom of the arches are slightly thicker, but the top of the arch thins out. Both of the arches have a slightly shorter side, so the middle point of the M does not touch the same plane as the outer arch edges. The entire design is completely flat and two dimensional. It technically has a transparent background, but the golden arches are occasionally displayed on a white or red background.
Changes and Evolution
The very first logo was just a sign saying “Mcdonald’s Famous Barbecue.” As the company moved from selling barbecue to other food styles, this logo was shortened to just the word “McDonald’s” in 1953. The golden arches first showed up in 1961 as part of a design with two intersecting arches, a diagonal line, and the restaurant name beneath the design.
In 1968, this was simplified to the classic arched shape with the restaurant’s name intersecting the M. This logo remained consistent until the nineties, when McDonald tried to make the logo more modern. Over the next decade, the logo was shaded, made three dimensional, turned into a smiley face, and put inside of a speaker bubble. Eventually, it was simplified into the modern logo.
Almost all versions of the McDonald’s logo have used a mixture of red, black, yellow, and white. The first logo with the arches used a red outline and a red font. This was then changed to yellow arches on a white background with black font. In 1975, McDonald’s moved to a logo that kept the same basic shape, but added a red background with a white restaurant’s name. In the 1990s, thick black shading was added behind the M, but this was eventually removed to create the plain yellow logo of modern times.
Though the old logo’s from the 40s and 50s used a lot of typewritten and script fonts, McDonald’s quickly settled on the Helvetica font. Since the 60s, any McDonald’s logo that contains the restaurant name uses a slightly modified version of the classic Helvetica font.
The inspiration behind the McDonald’s golden arches logo actually comes from an architect. The founders were working with Stanley Meston to create a red and white restaurant with a modern architectural style. Meston suggested that the restaurant have yellow arches running along either side of the building.
This became so popular that the design was used on all McDonald’s franchises, and the owners eventually decided to create the 1961 logo. This logo was originally supposed to look like a stylized representation of the restaurants. Over time, the logo was simplified more until the arches looked like the first letter of the restaurant’s name.
Though McDonald’s arches are normally yellow, a few cities with strict decorating regulations have managed to change this. In Sedona Arizona, McDonald’s is required to use turquoise arches that complement the red rock environment. The arches are black in Monterey, California because the city felt that the bright yellow color was too unsophisticated.
There is a lot of confusion about what McDonald’s logo means, and many people are mistakenly convinced that the logo is supposed to look like two of McDonald’s tasty fries. According to the company, any resemblance to french fries is just a happy coincidence.
McDonald’s logo appears on their restaurant’s, advertising, and packaging, so it is one of the most frequently viewed logos. Despite a few slight alterations, McDonald’s has retained the same iconic shape for over fifty years. The logo’s bright colors work well at encouraging food cravings anytime a McDonald’s fan views the logo.