McDonald’s vs Burger King: Brand Comparison

Today it’s National Hamburger Day in the US, which means it’s a good time to go out for a burger! The US is well-known for their burgers, and Americans alone consume over 50 billion burgers a year. You’ll find that many burger joints have special deals on this day. That also includes the two largest burger chains in the world: McDonald’s at #1 and Burger King at #2. We’ll be comparing the two by their brand differences, similarities and more. But first, some fast facts.

McDonald’s fast facts

  • Name: McDonald’s Corporation
  • Type: Public
  • Origin: San Bernardino, California
  • Founding date: 15 May, 1940, 
  • Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, US
  • Number of locations: 39,198
  • Key people: Enrique Hernandez Jr. (Chairman) and Chris Kempczinski (president and CEO)
  • Key stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, communities, franchisees and shareholders.
  • Revenue: $19.2 billion USD in 2020
  • Logo designers: Jim Schindler
  • Areas served: Worldwide

Burger King fast facts

  • Name: Burger King
  • Type: Subsidiary
  • Predecessor: Insta-Burger King
  • Parent company: Restaurant Brands International
  • Origin: Miami, Florida
  • Founding year: 1954
  • Headquarters: Miami-Dade County, Florida, US
  • Number of locations: 18,838
  • Key people: Alexandre Behring (Chairman RBI), Daniel S. Schwartz (CEO), José E. Cil (President) and Joshua Kobza (CFO)
  • Key stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, communities and investors.
  • Revenue: $4.97 billion USD in 2020 (parent)
  • Brand design company: Jones Knowles Ritchie (rebrand)
  • Areas served: Worldwide

Brand differences

A study shows that McDonald’s is the most valuable fast food brand in 2019, with a brand value of $130.4 billion. McDonald’s brand is so strong and that’s because they did their branding right all the way through. The company successfully appealed to their target audience. The restaurant’s atmosphere and menu items like Happy Meal made it clear it was catered to children. Over the years, the menu and target audience has only been widened and can now appeal to all people, while children are still the basic foundation.

In contrast, Burger King ranks 7th with $7.1 billion in brand value. Their brand is significantly weaker, which could have multiple reasons. One of them being that new product introductions haven’t always been so successful. For example, for eight years straight they aggressively targeted males between 18 and 34 years old. The male-oriented menus were forced to be switched by new menu items

Furthermore, some consumers are said to have experienced good consistency in quality between different locations at McDonald’s. Something that can’t be said about Burger King, and this inconsistency does not reflect the message they’re trying to convey. Their mission is to achieve the highest standards for food quality, sustainability and restaurant experiences.

Lastly, with both being over 60 years old, it is no surprise that the brands have gone through some changes. Both have created a new visual identity in the past two years. Changes are necessary in order to keep up with competitors and newer consumer standards. Both seem to go for minimalistic and flat illustrations, which fits in today’s standards of “modern”. Coincidentally, now after rebranding, both restaurants’ new concepts surround the idea that they want modern consumers to feel good. To feel good in general, but also about the brand.

Controversies

Every organisation is bound to deal with criticism. Some more than others, but you just can’t be liked by everyone. And when an issue gets out of hand, it can really affect the brand.

Both restaurants have had quite some controversies and legal cases. For instance, last year McDonald’s had to apologize for a display in one of its Chinese locations, saying that “black people are not allowed to enter.” And this year, on International Women’s Day, Burger King UK’s Twitter stated “Women belong in the kitchen.”

After receiving criticism, it is then up to the company on how they respond to it. Often, the damage has already been done, but sometimes the hit can still be softened. In addition, they slowly make up for it through good actions, such as charitable contributions.

Conclusion

From a brand value perspective, McDonald’s is a clear winner. However, it is often up to personal preferences, as both have their unique differences and have built strong relationships with certain consumers. And while both brands are very established, the question remains whether the new visual identities will work out for them. Can they become as iconic as the old ones? Only time can tell.

If you want to get a burger today, Burger King supposedly has the best burgers from a handful of other fast food chains (according to an American survey in 2014).

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