Image from Unsplash

Image from Unsplash

How McDonald’s Gave Itself a Facelift with a Sound

Ba da ba ba ba. Five non-words in a row and you already know what we’re talking about. That’s right, McDonalds’ jingle I’m Lovin’ It. But it’s not just a jingle; it’s a sonic logo.

What’s the difference and why does it matter?

A jingle is more specifically tied to a campaign and/or a project. It is not necessarily brand- centric. A sonic logo identifies the brand as a whole and is created with longevity in mind. 

The amount of work that was put into creating this mnemonic proves that McDonalds definitely had long term brand equity in mind. 

Image from Unsplash

Image from Unsplash

I’m Lovin’ It was not created overnight. It was meticulously crafted and iterated before the final version was chosen. And from that “winner” the work was still not complete. Thousands of variations (for multiple marketing purposes) were then developed, distributed, and explained to the global employees and marketing professionals that made up McDonalds branding.

The mnemonic united McDonalds corporate even before it united the world.

Once marching orders were given, the sonic logo was launched under the perception that it was “just” another new Justin Timberlake single. After time had passed, McDonalds then revealed the true nature of the tune and their alignment with it. By then it was too late. 


We were lovin’ it.

If you haven’t already, check out 20 Thousand Hertz podcast episode “I’m Lovin’ It” for a great in depth story on the creation of those 5 very memorable notes.

All that work and collaboration and global alignment paid off. McDonalds was united through a 5-note phrase that anyone could sing, or humm, or whistle, or play. So many different utterances allowed them to pivot through the years, which is exactly what a brand needs when, say, a global pandemic comes along. 

During the summer of 2020, studies showed that we weren’t responding to the happy go lucky uber positive jingles. We were “not in the mood”. So McDonalds responded and created a more somber “COVID friendly” version where you hear a different celebrity voice, Brian Cox, singing ba da ba ba ba in a slightly off key version. Subtle, but effective in bringing the super happy bubbly mnemonic down a notch to be appropriate within the times.

Originally, the I’m Lovin’ It logo was only supposed to run 2 years. Now in its 18th year, McDonalds has yet to announce an end. But at this point does it matter? 

I’m Lovin’ It has secured its place within the brand eco-system, the world and our hearts. If we never heard it in another commercial, would it disappear? Not likely. Someone, somewhere, at some time is bound to whistle a quick remembrance of that smile-inducing sound.

Image from Unsplash

Image from Unsplash

I’d say that this “jingle” graduated to a sonic logo somewhere around the 3rd note. We will be “Lovin’ It” for a long long time.