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Why Design Matters
26 February 2010

McDonald's CremorneMcDonald's Cremorne Inside

Why Design Matters

I just read a blog article that maintained that customers don’t care as much about brands as we designers and marketers think they do. Compared to, say, our family, our friends and the people we love and care about, brands come a fair way down our list of priorities.

It’s true, and we need to keep that in perspective, but I do have an example of just how much of a part brands do play in our lives.

A couple of years ago I was part of the design team for the new McDonald’s in Cremorne. It opened without fanfare in December, by coincidence the first day of the school holidays. Within half an hour it was filled with enthusiastic high school students. As I stood in the entry area having a conversation with my clients, an elderly man approached us, shook all of our hands, and thanked us for “doing such a lovely job” with his local Macca’s. He explained that every morning he visited McDonald’s for a cup of tea and a Big Mac. When the store was closed for renovations he had taken the bus every day to the McDonald’s in Brookvale, 10km north, for his daily visit. He was so happy with his fresh new local that he was having two Big Macs to celebrate. I sat down and had a cup of tea with him and he proceeded to tell me his entire life history.

As a 24 hour branch, McDonalds Cremorne caters for everyone from early morning tradies to high school students (it’s the unofficial SCEGGS canteen,) from teenagers too young to go to the pubs in the evenings to local business owners having meetings. Everyone uses it in their own way and everyone has their own expectations of what their McDonald’s experience should be.

Sure, it doesn’t matter to them as much as their families and loved ones, and if it disappeared tomorrow they would easily cope. But it does form part of their daily lives and occupies a small section of their hearts.

It was an education to see that what we do affects people’s lives in ways that go beyond selling goods at a price. It was also sobering to realize that we have a responsibility towards customers like this in terms of fulfilling their expectations and not letting them down.

Gary McCartney is Managing Director of McCartney Design He can be contacted on

26 February 2010
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