The McDonald’s brand’s biggest weakness is seen in recent health debates. McDonald’s has failed to make their food healthier. While minimal efforts have been made, McDonald’s still cannot compete with subway or other more natural and fresh fast food options. It seems as though McDonald’s has almost become the symbol for the unhealthy eating habits of Americans, along with the widespread obesity epidemic plaguing the United States over recent years. Their reputation has suffered from the media with movies such “Super-size Me.” Many customers complain about the plethora of unhealthy food options offered by McDonald’s. Many people no longer prefer low cost over quality, shifting popularity away from McDonald’s and towards other fast food providers.
A brand molecule, according to Hill and Lederer, is the process of identifying all associations connected to your brand. In addition to understanding the type of connections, you need to evaluate the importance of each association and how much weight it carries independently.
By unfolding a brand molecule, the organization is able to view all possible connections, either positive or negative, in its current state. By virtue of this analysis, you can achieve greater clarity and insight into your positioning or re-branding process.
The McDonalds brand molecule, as portrayed in this pictorial, illuminates the basic constructs of this process. Key elements of this model include: linking all brand associations (emanating from the center), the importance of each (size), and how they relate to each other. Once accomplished, you can begin the process of removing those associations that no longer “fit” and adding new identifiers in their place. This process provides the manager with an opportunity to view the entire brand and affect change in a strategic manner.
A real-world example of this process was the recent transformation of Cadillac. In the late 80s and early 90s, sales for this brand were declining due to European and Japanese penetration into the luxury car market.