June 20, 2011

Fast-Food, Version 2.0

Places like McDonald’s and Burger King are generally considered classic fast-food giants. The die-hard Big Mac or Whopper fans will always keep them in business, but a new slew of pseudo-fast-food restaurants are giving them a run for their money – even forcing them to reconsider their branding strategies.

These days, Panera Bread has free wi-fi. Noodles and Co. has healthy pasta dishes for around $5. Even Starbucks sells prepackaged deli sandwiches alongside its specialty drinks. But food isn’t the only allure of these new fast-food restaurants: their interiors are decorated with fresh, modern art, their staffs are comprised of enthusiastic young adults, and their customers often treat the establishments more as relaxing hang-out spots than eateries.

These brands accomplish what places like McDonald’s and Burger King fall short of —associating themselves with a growing class of individuals that will pay a little more for an atmospheric, modern meal. They are able to exude sophistication that is affordable, healthy, wholesome, and accessible — and who doesn’t want to be a part of that?

Lately, the previous kings of fast-food are taking a hint from their newer competition’s branding techniques and moving away from the catch-all, fast-food brand of cheap and greasy. McDonald’s, for instance, has recently been implementing new restaurant designs with relaxing color palettes and flowing fonts, along with menu items like fruit smoothies and oatmeal. Burger King is said to be revamping its entire restaurant feel, getting rid of the king mascot as well as adding a new Asian chicken salad to their menu.

But ditching the burger brand that the two chains almost single-handedly created could be hard to do, and regular customers might not embrace the changes. These restaurants take a risky gamble on a new trend that might not outlive their own established brands.

Will McDonald’s or Burger King reach the new standard of fast-food prestige? Share your thoughts!

Contributed by Allison Meeks

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *