Online Branding: the Case of Mcdonald's

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BFJ 106,3



Online branding: the case of McDonald’s
Jennifer Rowley
School for Business and Regional Development, University of Wales, Bangor, UK Keywords Internet, Corporate branding, Customer relations, Marketing communication Abstract This article explores the approaches to the delivery of brand messages through a Web site, taking one of the leading brands, McDonald’s, as a case study. The role of brands and branding in the new economy that is characterised by digitisation and globalisation is attracting considerable attention. McDonald’s recent “I’m lovin’ it” campaign, is being integrated through every element of the business, including its Web site; this campaign therefore presents a useful opportunity to analyse the contribution of the Internet channel to brand building. This case study analysis is conducted on two levels: how the Web site elements are enlisted to reinforce brand messages, and overarching brand strategy themes such as glocalisation, community and channel integration. Further research and development on online branding needs to explore effective strategies for integration of online branding with branding through other channels, and opportunities that the Internet offers for both e-service and brick service companies for building customer relationships and communities.

A brand is not a name. A brand is not a positioning statement. It is not a marketing message. It is a promise made by a company to its customers and supported by that company (Sterne, 1999). I may have intelligent agents that can go out and assemble pages of reports on every camcorder on the market, but I don’t have time to read them. I’ll buy Sony (Sterne, 1999).

British Food Journal Vol. 106 No. 3, 2004 pp. 228-237 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0007-070X DOI 10.1108/00070700410528808

Online branding is discussed in nearly every book on e-marketing or e-business. Some argue that in a world of information overload, brands become ever more important, because they save the customer time, by reducing their search costs. (Ward and Lee, 2000). This position can be further developed by arguing that brand building will be increasingly important in providing continuity and customer commitment in a fast moving marketplace. In an electronic shopping environment where physical interaction is reduced and product qualities and benefits must be distilled and captured in a way that can be communicated over the wires, online branding may be increasingly important. Others argue that with the wealth of information on the Web at their fingertips, coupled with intelligent agents and search engines to help them locate the information, products and services that they need, users will no longer rely on the shorthand of brand. Instead they will gather detailed

information on products and services and make their own judgements on the Online branding: suitability of a product, thereby making brands superfluous. the case of There is evidence to suggest that it is difficult to communicate an online McDonald’s brand in the absence of preconceptions already established through other channels. Many of the early dotcoms failed because they needed to establish presence and reputation quickly and the huge marketing budgets that this 229 required undermined their financial stability. A key agenda has been to balance the need to protect and not corrupt established brands as established organisations enter risky “new marketplaces” while leveraging the brand equity of existing brands. In other words the issue has been to create a sense of “the same credibility, but a different presentation”. For example, at the symbolic level, Barnes & Noble achieved this by retaining the offline parent brand Barnes & Noble, but...
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