The Design Business Show 116: The Story Behind McDonald’s Rebrand with Tyler Brooks

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | October 22, 2020
Check out episode 116 of The Design Business Show with Tyler Brooks to hear the behind-the-scenes story of McDonald's rebrand!

Tyler Brooks has been with Turner Duckworth since 2011. He’s a Creative Director at the agency’s San Francisco studio, with a portfolio of award-winning work across a diverse range of clients like Coca-Cola, Google, Metallica, Little Caesars, and, most recently, McDonald’s. In his spare time, he’s probably reading too many comic books, telling one too many bad jokes, and/or playing too many video games.

Check out some of the brand visuals from the rebrand below.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

  • How Tyler and I connected when his team reached out and asked if I’d be interested in having him on the podcast to discuss the McDonald’s visual identity rebrand
  • During high school, Tyler spent time with his art teacher who suggested graphic design as a career path and told him about the University of Cincinnati which she thought would be a good fit for him
  • Tyler enrolled in the graphic design program at the University of Cincinnati, College of DAAP and completed an internship with Turner Duckworth to gain real world experience
  • How Tyler did two rounds of internships with Turner Duckworth and was offered a job before he graduated
  • Tyler shared what it was like to intern at Turner Duckworth, and shared how they’re really treated like junior designers who create creative concepts for internal critiques, who also perform some studio maintenance
  • The benefits of being an intern and getting to learn from a wide variety of people that you can build your knowledge from versus working with one small group of people
  • Tyler shares the story of his move to San Francisco and how he started out as a junior designer with Turner Duckworth doing quick turn around tasks for Coca-Cola and Sprite
  • How being in the right place at the right time and performing your best in those moments can set you apart from others and why you should speak up and look for opportunities yourself as well
  • Tyler shares that doing the work is easy, but presenting it to others and explaining why it’s the right work is the hard part
  • The story of how Turner Duckworth first engaged with McDonald’s in late 2017 / early 2018 and how they launched the visual brand identity to their system in September 2018
  • How Tyler led the global refresh for Little Caesars and how Turner Duckworth has worked on many other Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) brands
  • Tyler walks us through some of the biggest visual elements that changed through the McDonald’s rebrand
  • How Turner Duckworth was able to introduce the first ever global brand font for McDonald’s which made their everyday messaging more approachable
  • Tyler explains that with a rebrand like McDonald’s, the goal is update all areas, but some things take longer than others, like updating architectural fixtures and physical elements
  • How the creative team at Turner Duckworth thought about what could make the biggest impact for McDonald’s rebrand and started with changing social media icons, content and digital applications
  • Working on the McDonald’s rebrand involved a large creative team, Tyler, Turner Duckworth’s CCO, production and implementation teams, as well as account management communicating with the client to make everything is on track
  • Why making a functional system that others can use, be inspired by, and be creative with is the goal of Turner Duckworth
  • How at the start of the McDonald’s project they met bi-weekly and took on the master brand and how they now have daily interactions and have branched to sub brands like, McCafé and Happy Meal
  • Tyler shares that the McDonald’s brand exists in 120 countries and in 30,000+ restaurants, all of which required different levels of transformation during this project
  • Tyler’s advice for projects is to stay on course as best as possible and remember your main goals but understand that the relationship between client and agency and how a project develops is not a straight line
  • How to be okay with the fact that when you have reached a plan, your client might disagree and you’ll need to compromise to make it the best it can be
  • Tyler’s job as creative director is to ensure the work they’re doing has a life beyond today and tomorrow
  • Tyler discusses what it’s like to lead a team and shares that it’s fun because he gets to work with a broad range of people with different levels of knowledge
  • How it’s important to reach out and make connections with people and agencies whether reaching out is in your comfort zone or not because it shows initiative
  • Why learning as much as you can, gaining real life experience, showing your passionate and showing empathy is important as a designer
  • Tyler shares something that was said in many McDonald’s meetings, which is, “progress over perfection” and explains how many young designers get suck and need to be okay with not always getting it 100% right
  • How design is becoming more accessible which is raising the baseline quality, making it harder to stand out and why Tyler says that’s a good thing
  • Connect with Tyler on LinkedIn


Creative Credits for Images above:

Agency: Turner Duckworth, San Francisco

Global CCO: Sarah Moffat

Creative Director: Tyler Brooks

Lead Designer: Hannah Steinberg

Designers: Loren Schott, Oliver Lo, Sydney Bradshaw, Hollis Callas

Account Directors: Wyeth Whiting, D’Arcy Danaher

Account Manager: Carly Newgard

Typography: Dalton Maag

Production Director: Craig Snelgrove

Production Artist: Jeff Ensslen

Implementation Director: Liisa Turan-Walters

Implementation Designers: Sara Scanlan

Digital Hub partner: Reach Creative

Links mentioned:

Turner Duckworth Website 

Connect with Tyler on LinkedIn 


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