Case Study: Architecture Photography for McDonald’s Restaurants

Written by Megan Lowdon

Megan is the Director of Operations at Robert Lowdon Photography. Megan has 10 years of experience in project management and logistics planning, having worked in the event and hospitality industry for large companies for many years.

Published February 14, 2024

architecture image of fast-food chain McDonald's

The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited. The projects took place in Western Ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase McDonald’s latest concepts and designs.

Our Client:

Who is McDonald’s Canada?

McDonald’s is a leading global fast food franchise with well known menu items such as; burgers, fries, chicken nuggets and soft drinks. As of 2022, there were 40,275 franchises worldwide that served approximately 69 million people daily, and generated $23.18 billion in global revenue. McDonald’s is an iconic brand with very high brand awareness. I remember as a kid, if my family went to a competitor fast food chain, my mom would still order me a “Happy Meal” or “McNuggets” even though that was exclusive terminology to McDonald’s. Making it’s dominance in the fast food industry clear.

McDonald’s originated in the mid 1950’s in the United States and expanded to Canada in the late 1960’s. In Canada, there are approximately 1400 restaurants, employing more than 90,000 Canadians.

What Makes McDonald’s Canada Different?

McDonald’s Canada has a significant impact on the Canadian economy. Through generating direct and in direct employment, tax contributions, and purchasing local goods and services, McDonald’s injects $4.2 million into the Canadian economy daily and $130 million in corporate income taxes annually.

Since 2003, McDonald’s Canada has been sourcing 100% of their beef from Canadian farmers, despite a brief hiatus in 2020 due to supply shortages caused by the pandemic. McDonald’s Canada is the largest buyer of ground beef in Canada with annual purchases of more than 67 million pounds.

With McDonald’s Canada’s continuous growth and their commitment to sourcing local, they have significantly impacted the Canadian economy.

The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Exterior architecture photography of mcdonald’s entrance.
The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Tree in foreground of exterior architectural image.
The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Straight on exterior image of mcdonald’s quick serve restaurant.

Objective:

Why is Architecture Photography Important for McDonald’s Canada?

Architecture photography conveys the company’s commitment to brand consistency, modernity, and attention to detail in its physical spaces. This visual representation of meticulously designed McDonald’s locations captures the heart of their newest design concepts, inviting customers into a space that’s both familiar and innovative.

High-quality captivating images tell a story of progress and customer-centric design, serving as a powerful marketing tool that illustrates the forward-thinking approach McDonald’s undertakes in every aspect of its operation. Professional architectural photos highlight the sleekness and functionality of the dining areas and the contemporary interior and ambiance, which are pivotal in influencing a customer’s dining experience.

Architecture photography not only cements the brand’s image in the consumer’s mind but also showcases the architectural evolution of an iconic brand, which can attract new franchises and inspire existing ones to reimagine their spaces—demonstrating how invested the corporation is in fostering an aesthetically appealing and comfortable environment for its patrons.

Architecture Photography as a Marketing Tool

Professional architecture photography provides McDonald’s with a powerful portfolio of images that serve as a foundation for various marketing and branding strategies. This visual form of storytelling has been proven to enhance customer engagement, drive brand recognition, and ultimately influence consumer behavior, leading to increased traffic and sales.

By showcasing the sleek design and modern elements of their restaurants, McDonald’s is able to differentiate itself from competitors and stand out in the fast-paced food industry. Our high-quality images also serve as a way for McDonald’s to communicate its brand values and commitment to customer experience, helping to build trust with its customers.

Architecture Photography to Document Brand Evolution

Architecture photography can be used as a tool to encapsulate the evolution of the brand over time. There have been some significant milestones in McDonald’s overall aesthetic throughout the brands history.

In the 1990’s, the brand was more kid focused around the popularity of the Ronald McDonald characters, the play places, Happy Meals with iconic toys, and the bright colours of the restaurant.

In the 2010’s, McDonald’s received a complete face lift with the introduction of McCafe. Gone were the bright colours and the kid friendly atmosphere in favour of rustic decor and textures, such as brown leather furniture, stone facades, and fireplaces.

Now, in the 2020’s, McDonald’s is receiving yet another over hall and focusing more on automation and quick services with a modernized retro feel. The play places are non existent, the artwork pays homage to the history of the brand but in an avant-garde type of way, and there are digital kiosks for ordering, as well as delivery service only pick up windows.

This photographic documentation not only adds depth to the company’s narrative but also serves as a reference for future growth and development. It showcases the brand’s adaptability and willingness to constantly evolve with changing times and consumer preferences, solidifying its position as an industry leader in innovation and design. With each new location or redesign, McDonald’s can add to their collection of architecture photography, furthering their legacy and impact on the Canadian market.

The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Newly renovated interior of mcdonald’s canada restaurant.
The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Image showcasing contemporary art pieces featuring classic menu items.
The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Feature wall.
The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Interior architecture photography of mcdonald’s dining section.

The Process:

Exterior Architecture Photography

Exterior architecture photography is a process that involves more than just capturing the façade of a building; it’s about portraying the brand story through its structures and presence in the landscape. For a brand like McDonald’s, this means highlighting the instantly recognizable Golden Arches, the modern drive-thru format, and the integration of technology into their building designs—all key aspects that contribute to the company’s brand identity.

It’s important to account for the correct time of day and schedule accordingly, with consideration for natural lighting to enhance the building’s features, as well as weather conditions. Sometimes weather conditions can pose a technical challenge, so we always plan to be very flexible with our clients when selecting dates.

We also wanted to deliver images from different vantage points, which is why we included some aerial exterior shots with the drone. We positioned the drone to fit the entire frame of the building and surrounding areas into the images, which helps to identify the restaurant’s geographical location within the city.

Additionally, attention to detail in the post-production phase ensures that the final images resonate with McDonald’s ethos of quality and service excellence.

By leveraging the power of high-quality exterior architecture photography, McDonald’s Canada not only reinforces its brand message of familiarity and evolution but also entrenches itself as a contemporary and progressive force in the fast-food industry. Each photograph serves as a testament to the brand’s legacy and its forward momentum into the future of quick-service dining.

Interior Architecture Photography

Interior architecture photography paints a vision of what customers can expect inside a McDonald’s. By photographing different angles we can communicate the efficiency of the service areas, the comfort of the seating arrangements, and the overall aesthetic vibe. The focus is on translating the atmosphere into images that resonate with the potential customer.

Just like the exterior shots, the interior shots of a McDonald’s location is an essential part of the brand narrative. It’s where customers experience the brand’s commitment to a fast, yet relaxing dining experience. The interior shots must convey a sense of warmth and welcome, encouraging customers to return. This is where artistry meets precision in professional photography; an expertly captured photo will reflect the meticulous planning and thoughtful design that McDonald’s integrates into every location by having the right equipment and creatively capturing different angles.

Architecture image of mcdonald's
Exterior of mcdonald’s restaurant with bright blue sky and fresh green grass.
The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Aerial exterior image using a drone to show a different vantage point and the surrounding area.
The following is a case study about a series of impressive architecture photography projects we completed for mcdonald's restaurants of canada limited. The projects took place in western ontario and were focused on new build properties. The goal of these photography projects was to capture interior shots and exterior shots of these modern buildings and to showcase mcdonald's latest concepts and designs.
Detail image of the classic mcdonald’s golden arches.

Usage

McDonald’s Canada utilized the architecture photography from these projects for internal use; predominately presentations, reports, proposals, and record-keeping. They also used the images for various marketing campaigns, including press releases and social media posts surrounding the grand opening of the restaurants.

Conclusion

In the world of fast-food retail, where competition is fierce and brand identity is paramount, McDonald’s Canada has demonstrated the power of architecture photography as a transformative marketing asset. By taking captivating images of the impressive architecture of these modern buildings, the assets we delivered can be used for a multitude of purposes.

As a testament to their vision, the images captured not only reflect the company’s commitment to excellence but also chart the growth and modernization of a global leader. The investment in high-quality architecture photography goes beyond the aesthetic; it is a strategic tool that drives engagement, enhances brand reputation, and catalyzes commercial growth.

Through over a decade of professional experience, we have honed the craft of telling compelling visual stories that resonate with audiences and build brand legacies. We hope that this case study has provided you with some insights into our approach to architecture photography and how we work with our clients to achieve their goals.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to learn more about our services, please contact us. We would be happy to discuss your specific needs and see how we can help.

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