Design changes over the years, with trends coming and going, but the core design principles always remain the same: keep it simple, make it look nice, and ensure you get the message across. The trends in recent years have been for flat colours, sans serif typefaces like Arial and Helvetia, and the use of icons and infographics. This influence is led by the growth of marketing on digital platforms and the desire to keep UIs clean and easy to navigate, but the simple online design styles are common in printed items as well.
McDonald's is following this ‘keep it simple’ trend and has recently unveiled its new branding for its US branches. Featuring bold typography in bright colours, it is a lot more stripped back than previous branding, and achieves a modern, playful look.
McDonald's is not the first major brand to follow the keep it simple approach - both Google and Yahoo simplified their logos last year to flat colours and sans serif type, and many other companies are following suit.
But can you be too simple when it comes to design? And can you lose the brand essence by doing so?
In the case of Google and Yahoo, they now have a more web friendly logo for the digital age, but are still recognisable by the use of their brand colours. For McDonald's, the logo remains the same, but the new identity gives the brand a modern feel and the bright colours and large typography means that the brand is recognisable from a distance. However, I feel that it is possibly too simple and that it could appeal more to children than adults, which is dangerous ground for a fast food chain.
Furthermore, you can simplify a brand too much and lose its original identity. For instance, Gaps unsuccessful rebrand a few years ago proved that using a sans serif typeface and updating the logo doesn’t always work - to do it successfully you need consistency and links to the old logo. Would you have thought these were the same company?
As the preferences for flat design show no signs of slowing down yet, it is likely we will see a lot more brands following the keep it simple approach. Do you like McDonald’s new identity? Let us know what you think.