The Big Mac and the Art of Branding and Positioning

McDonald's Positioning Statement, Branding and Positioning AustinWhat’s so great about the Big Mac? Branding and  Positioning, that’s about all

Let’s be real: There’s nothing to the Big Mac. It’s an over-hyped bit of nonsense, really.

“Big”? It’s tall, because it has an extra piece of bread in it, and also because they split the “meat” into two pieces.

In fact, it actually has less meat in it than a Quarter Pounder, or Royal with Cheese.

How, you ask?

Well, each patty is a 1/10 lb. patty instead of 1/8 lb. See what they did there?

More marketed burger for less actual burger (The commercial plays at the bottom of the page). Branding and Positioning company for the win!

McDonald’s Positioning Statement: Be Recognizable for your Value Proposition

In spite of these very average stats, the Big Mac is arguably the most iconic and recognizable burger in America.


Simple: Branding and Positioning.

If you’re of a certain age (old), you remember the catchy jingle “Two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun”.

This jingle is genius because now, the Big Mac is no longer a burger;

It’s a unique burger experience that your mouth and brain reinforce and relive when you bite into it:

“It IS a sesame seed bun! There’s that special sauce…yep, that’s a pickle…” your brain walks you through the experience that it remembers because of the clever and memorable jingle.

There’s a lesson here for tying your deliverable experience (your Value Proposition) back to clear content marketing copy, but that’s for another blog post. Today, we’re talking about Branding and Positioning.

(UPDATE: Not directly related to positioning, but here’s a recent article about the Big Mac’s condition in the current marketplace)

If you’ve never heard of Positioning, or don’t understand how it works with Branding, consider these:

  • Coke “owns” the concept of cola
  • A tissue is a Kleenex
  • “Downy Soft” is what you want for your children and their clothing

To be recognized for your value proposition means people walking up to you and saying “when I think of your name, I think of ______”.

It’s your job to fill that blank with your value proposition.

It ain’t easy, and it ain’t cheap, but it’s the most important work you can do in or on your business. Let’s look at our ad again.

Perhaps better than any ad in history, this one breaks apart the product into its component parts, uses that list as McDonald’s positioning statement for the Big Mac, and does it all in less than a minute.

That’s incredible.

Here’s a 1984 version of the Big Mac Branding commercial (the original is embedded below) where it does a great job of breaking down what the sandwich is.

It’s important to remember that the Big Mac was introduced in 1967, and NO ONE was doing this, so it makes sense to really explain it. But McDonald’s kept using the “explain it step-by-step” tactic. Why? Because it WORKS.

You can use the same tactic, using SEO for your branding and positioning. Walk through your value propositions and the experience the prospect can expect, and do it step=by=step. This is where good content, great sales copy, solid SEO best practice, video marketing, well-written title tags, and social media marketing all meld together in one unified process.

Perhaps now is a good time to extract a small business branding lesson:

Break down your service or product into its components, and do it from your PROSPECTS’ point of view.

Note how the commercial defines the sandwich as if the viewer has no idea what it is, but all the time is allowing you, the viewer, to experience every component.

McDonald’s knows what they’re selling:

An eating experience.

It would be value-less if all the other burger chains were doing the same thing, but they weren’t. It’s significant that, in 50 years of fast food since, no one has knocked it off the mountaintop.

Claude Hopkins and Early Branding

Claude Hopkins wrote Scientific Advertising, and made a career out of this. Most famously, he used process explanation with Shlitz Beer in the first decade of the 1900s (this really is a genius campaign, and if you’ve not read his books, rebuke yourself lightly, then go buy them and read them).

Claude was the grandfather, but the Big Mac ad is the best version in the modern age I can think of (I’d totally love it if you can think of another that comes close your thing is better. I’m TheKyleBailey on Twitter, or you can tweet @Burnermarketing).

It’s especially striking considering the subject material: a really crappy burger.

By any objective standard, the Big Mac doesn’t measure up to any real burger. Think of any fresh burger place you love, compare it to the Big Mac, and freshness usually wins.

That’s fine for the big guys, What about YOU?

Now, let’s define and apply another small business branding lesson.

Stated simply, it’s this: first, don’t assume your customer or prospect completely understands the components of what makes your product or service what it is.

Next, truly give some time and effort to thinking of what you do from your customer’s point of view instead of your own.

No one thinks of your product or service the way you do, and if you’re like most small business owners I talk to, you don’t think like your customer.

Work on that; a LOT.

Finally, pour that granular definition into your content marketing. This value system and process is baked into our Austin Sales Consulting work.

boring mission statement, bad value proposition, branding and positioningBAD BRANDING: “To emulate our founding members by serving others as if they were our own, while providing a meaningful service of life. To maintain our core leadership role in the industry through excellence of service…blah blah blah…(this is a real mission statement, slightly altered to protect….well, somebody)” use some detail of yourself, your service, SOMETHING in there. Make it real, make it connect.

BETTER BRANDING: “Since 1981, we’ve had one simple goal: to make our client’s lives better using 3 methods: (enter your core services here; no jargon)”.

See how much better this connects?

“My father started this remodeling business out of his garage in 1995 from his love of  helping homeowners have the interior living spaces they’d always dreamed of. We’d like to continue that tradition with your home.”

Make a Difference, or do something else (if you can)

Mean something. It’s that simple.

Affect your customers’ lives.

Pat Flynn says, and I agree: “If you want to change your prospect’s life, change their day”.

Once you’ve worked really hard boiling down exactly what problems you solve and how you’re unique, build that into describing your product and shaping your value proposition.

This is your rough draft. Once that’s done, go look at how your competition is doing it.

Once you figure out what everyone else is saying, make sure your positioning is different (if you have giant competition, you have to take a slightly different tack).

For instance, if you’re a pest control company, and you understand that you’re going up against ABC Home Services, not to mention all the other big pest control companies, you have to tightly define your niche, both in description of your ideal client and the service you offer.

“We only work with home owners who value their environment and the safety of their children and pets, and that’s why we only use (enter specific industry data here)”.

The more you talk about your ideal client, the more they show up, because they hear you talking about them!

You’re never going to win beating your head up against the brick wall of those big guys’ budgets, so niche definition is your win.

What does this have to do with the Big Mac?

Simply this: McDonalds spent lots of time and money creating a product that was a little different than the pack, making that their flagship, then positioning it with brilliant copy.

Go forth and do likewise.

P.S. Here’s the original 1975 Big Mac commercial:  


Happy Marketing!

Sales and Seo, Value Proposition, Sales Process


2020-05-18T01:28:23-06:00 By |Branding|Comments Off on The Big Mac and the Art of Branding and Positioning

About the Author:

I'm Kyle Bailey. I'm a sales consultant and SEO & Wordpress expert living in Austin, Tx and working with clients nationwide. I love helping clients, good Tex-Mex, and great music!