Earlier this week, a member of our team did a double  take at this piece of direct mail: (see right)

Something didn’t seem right. The information she was reading didn’t seem clear, the colours were meshed, and what exactly is a ‘Terminal’? McDonald’s – c’mon!

McDonald’s has gone through a massive billion-dollar rebrand in the past 10 years. We will be the first to admit that this redesign has worked to positively change our brand perception. McDonald’s has done an exceptional job with their bold colour choices and really modernizing the brand overall. So why didn’t this strong brand standard translate to the direct mail piece?

Here are are some reasons along with our tips:

Rule #1 Give your readers all of the information

The very first word we see when we look at this ad is the large and bold word at the top that says ‘Terminal’…. huh, where? Terminal is a word that is related to the end of a route or an illness. It doesn’t register that ‘terminal’ is referencing a place.

The line that appears after ‘Terminal McDonald’s’ appears to be a thin grey text saying ‘is hiring’. This doesn’t stand out to us at all and it’s an important piece of information to know… but we will talk about this later on.


Rule #2 Know thy brand

Every organization should have a set of guidelines to ensure consistency. It’s how people recognize your product or business. Brand guidelines are usually a few pages in length and state elements such as the colours you should use, what you can and cannot do to the logo, and the typography that should be used on materials. McDonald’s has their own brand guidelines that we found online, and it outlines everything you need to know to stay on-brand. Let’s take a look at item 2 and 3 on McDonald’s brand list of do’s and concerns, we couldn’t agree with these items more.

This particular ad has a whole lot of font weights, which makes it difficult on the eye for audiences. It confuses the reader’s brain because it doesn’t know where to look first and last – which leads us into the next point.

Rule #3 Educate yourself on Visual Mapping

As North Americans, we have trained our brains to naturally look at design and copy from the top left and then we scan to the bottom right. It just happens. We learn from a young age to read from left to right, so we naturally observe art that way too. This is a design element called visual mapping, where a designer will strategically place elements that flow with the reader’s scanning path.

Take a look at this example from creativebloq.com which best describes how this scanning path functions: (see right)

Looking back at the direct mailer now, everything is left justified – which is fine but not strategic for the information they are trying to provide us with.

The McDonald’s brand guidelines state that everything is aligned in a box shape to match their standards. It’s difficult to naturally direct your eye with this ad because you have
– Typography of different size, shape, colour and weight
– Distracting graphics at the bottom
– A large Twitter logo at the bottom

Designers and marketers have figured out a way to create a hierarchy of information using this visual map, which gives the information a placement in the order of importance that the brand is trying to communicate.

So that’s visual mapping 101.

Rule #4 Ask for help

Use Pinterest for inspiration, read blogs, and educate yourself on basic design skills. It is never a bad thing to look to experts.

This is where we come in. At Glacier Media Digital, we know design and we’re pretty excited about it.

Food for thought: don’t let this mistake happen to you. Take the stress of design off of your plate and let us do the work for you.

The Big Reveal

To show you how easy it is to transform the message of your marketing piece, we took on the task of following McDonald’s brand standards to show you how a few changes can make it easier to understand the message you are trying to tell.

Now who’s ready for a McFlurry? 🙋