Why don’t we see a lot of large, multinational corporations in lists of best logos and best web designs? Part of this is a natural prejudice toward underdogs—and corporations like McDonald’s are not underdogs by any stretch of the word. Part of this, however, is the very nature of large businesses. When designs have to go through numerous planning meetings and be ripped apart by multiple different departments, all that is left is a very bland, overly correct design with very few hints of creativity. Also, a large business must represent a large array of goods while appealing to an expanding customer base. It’s impossible to please everyone, but most large businesses give it their best shot.
However, there are always exceptions, and here we see one of them. In this McCafe website, McDonald’s is not so subtly comparing their fast food coffee to the gourmet drinks that Americans pay a small fortune for at both national and local coffee shops. Deep brown colors erase any hint of fast food sensibility, and even the logo is distinct from the normal Golden Arches. A cup of coffee in the center looks deep, rich, and drinkable in a white espresso cup and saucer.
This website is clearly more about branding than about sharing information, but it works beautifully. You can find out more about the McCafe range, but you also can experience it in a variety of ways, including by making your cappuccino art and viewing that of others. The drinks themselves are tucked away at the side, but they are visible without scrolling the page over. You can see that there are a variety of drinks and that they look very similar to what you get at a traditional espresso stand. You can also read a little about the drinks—again, the message is that they are equal to the ones you get at a Starbucks.
The artisan image is not just outwardly presented, but implied in a variety of ways as well. The presentation of a coffee in a porcelain cup is just the beginning. The background—in different shades of coffee brown, of course—has subtle swirling designs that are artsy in nature and reminiscent of steam wafting off a hot drink. The lighting is soft and diffuse. The text has swirling accents that have a creative edge while also reflecting the swirling steam elements seen in other parts of the page. These all tie into the cafe logo design, which is a kinder, rounder version of other Mickey D’s logo we have seen.
This page is well branded, which you would expect from a corporation like McDonald’s that virtually invented branding. It gives that all important homey feeling of a neighborhood coffee shop while showcasing the variety and quality of the drinks. All elements of the page tie into the central brand while offering a new perspective. We chose this website because it is a good example of a large company “borrowing” some of the web design elements that make small business websites so unique.