The golden arches. For nearly 60 years they’ve dotted our landscape, calling out to the world’s most hungry, budget-conscious carnivores.
But go on a road trip and the site of those exact same arches looming on the horizon can represent the fulfillment of another—much more urgent—primal need (one where a #1 and a #2 don’t refer to an extra value meal).
Of course, we’re referring to the world-famous McDonald’s Bathroom.
So what does branding have to do with a fast-food restaurant bathroom?
Building a strong, long-lasting brand is all about being consistent in the product or service you provide as well as your messaging and how you present yourself to the world.
Think about it for a second. Why is it that the sight of a McDonald’s can provide you with a subconscious feeling of relief whenever you find yourself on the road and nature calls?
It’s because you always know exactly what to expect.
McDonald’s bathrooms are clean, they’re always in the same location and there’s usually even a backdoor into the restaurant that allows you to avoid that whole, “I’m here for a McFlurry” act on the way to the little boy’s or girl’s room.
So why does McDonald’s put so much focus on their bathrooms, and why don’t they care that people stop in just to use them?
It’s because providing clean bathrooms plays a critical role in the overall McDonald’s brand. And while the folks in corporate may not like to directly associate the company’s bathrooms to the overall McDonald’s dining experience, there are a lot of similarities between the two.
After all, let’s face it, no one stops into a McDonald’s because the food is the absolute best around. They stop in because they know exactly what they are going to get. A Big Mac in Paris, Texas is going to be the exact same as a Big Mac in Paris, France and so is the ordering process, booth configuration and yes … cleanliness.
It’s also why McDonald’s has kept a notoriously tight grip on its franchisees. They know that just one bad experience, in just one McDonald’s, anywhere in the world breaks the consumer’s trust and ultimately tarnishes the overall brand.
So, if you want to build a strong brand, take a cue from a McDonald’s bathroom—any McDonald’s bathroom—and just be consistent.