He is arguably the best recognized corporate mascot on earth. He is a marked man–or, more accurately, a marked clown. Turns out Ronald McDonald’s Svengali grip over mommies and daddies is leading them to feed kids too many Happy Meals. Absurd as it seems, that’s essentially the charge against him.
Despite pressure from nutrition activists to kick the yellow-clad clown to the curb, McDonald’s is standing behind Ronald McDonald, thereby exemplifying one of The Ten BE’s of Better Branding: Be principled. Know your boundaries. Follow your north star.
“He is an ambassador for good,” McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner proclaimed at the height of the controversy. “Ronald McDonald is going nowhere.”
Customer-focus matters. But, there’s even greater value in defining what your brand stands for in the first place. Family friendly, affordable food (not necessarily in that order) could easily be McDonald’s core values. How could there be golden arches without the red-headed clown? Knowing your north star brings clarity to marketing decisions of very size.
What is your north star?
Tactics change, principles don’t. Principles are your north star. What five words or less describe your company? Take a minute. Write them down. Then, look at them once a day for two weeks. Make adjustments until those words clearly describe your company or brand. Once you’re satisfied, run marketing choices past them. Good ideas will touch every word. Ideas that fail to connect would probably lead you off course.
While they hung tough for Ronald, McDonald’s responded to nutritionists by, among other things, adding apples to Happy Meals and reducing the fries. Of course they did: doing so made them a family friendly, affordable food choice.