NEW HUE

McDonald’s is radically expanding its color palette

Obsession
Design
Obsession
Design

Nothing is sacred in McDonald’s quest to become a “modern, progressive” burger company. Not the dollar menu. Not the Hamburglar. Not even the signature red-and-gold coloring.

Yes, McDonald’s is ringing in the new year with a new look—a radically expanded color palette. The company said Wednesday (Jan. 7) that it will introduce new take-out bags, soda cups, and sandwich boxes this month and roll them out worldwide throughout 2016. “The new look is simple, fresh, and consistent with the company’s vision to be a modern and progressive burger company,” McDonald’s says in a statement.

If by simpler McDonald’s means “more complex and colorful” then … maybe? Sample images of the new packaging show the company’s name blocked out not just in red and gold, but also orange, green, purple, teal, and bright fuchsia text.

That the Golden Arches—at least they don’t seem to have changed color—is switching up its palette isn’t terribly surprising. McDonald’s started diversifying its branding materials last year, introducing greens and other natural colors to signal its commitment to fresh, healthy versions of fast food. (Consider how Whole Foods consistently brands itself in greens, whites, and browns.) Red and yellow, on the other hand, are usually associated with speed, efficiency, and excitement.

It’s hard to say how much the new lunch bags and cups will matter in the McDonald’s turnaround. In 2015, the chain pushed out initiative after initiative to jumpstart its business—reduced antibiotics in chicken, cage-free eggs, customizable burgers, all-day breakfast, even raises for some employees.

Somewhere along the way, something started working. This past October, McDonald’s reported its first strong quarter in two years. Its stock is currently at an all-time high. If the marketing and design powers-that-be want to add a little fuchsia to the packaging? Well, they’ve probably earned that right—and no doubt have a reason for exercising it.

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