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347. Branding Is In The Details. 

Branding is a funny thing. It, like advertising, pretty much includes everything a company does. Big things, like campaigns, product and promotion but also all the small things. The way a store smells when you walk into it. Maybe the music that's played. How their customer service answers the phone. And for fast food companies, the color of the straw they put into your drink. Sure, that's not as important as say—how quickly a company responds on twitter to a complaint—but if you have to use straws why not make it a subtle reminder of what's behind it? No small detail should go unnoticed including this one.

Some companies are really good at this. Starbucks even mentions their 'green straw' in some of their interior signage - almost as if it's a sign of class or something. And although I wouldn't go that far, every time you see a green straw, you know what it reminds you of, right? And that got me thinking. I started to collect straws and notice who is putting a little effort into theirs. Funny and sad at the same time, I've been thinking about this article for over a year. Ha. But I know how to put this topic in its proper perspective and know you can as well.

Humor me for a somewhat related anecdote. You've heard of the legend surrounding Van Halen and their request to have a bowl of M&M's backstage, but with all the brown ones removed? "...And make sure there's no brown ones in there!" It's used in production circles often as a joke on behalf of someone who is known for being particularly difficult. But the 'brown-out M&M contract' was actually a genius move by the band's management. If the band saw the candy bowl, and there were no brown goodies in the mix - they knew their contract had been read with the appropriate level of detail. Since their shows were legendary for their large-scale production values, they felt it integral that every detail was take care of in advance. Sure, the more important things like electricity supply, unloading docks and other logistics were the integral elements needed for a good show. The candy bowl was simply the canary in the coal mine, telling the band whether they needed to worry or that they could relax. 

So, that's kind of how I feel about quick-service restaurants and their straws. It means nothing, except that they've thought out everything from the largest of topics right down to the smallest. They're serious about their branding and image.

Can you name the companies to whom these straws belong? Of course, the first one is a gimmee.


These are all the ones that I could find that seemed to be purposeful branding decisions. Pretty much every other company uses a standard clear or white straw, which is a real shame. Some of these establishments could have a ton of fun with theirs as seen by my quick attempts to do just that. Try to guess which fast-food companies these straws represent (keeping the design as simple as possible.) Some of these are no-brainers, are you listening marketing managers? Answers far below.

My Suggested Straws For Other Fast Food Companies:

You have to admit, even though this is a silly excercise, it's still fun. (And by all means submit your own.) If I have one more serious suggestion to these companies it would be to make all their straws the ones with the bendy necks. They provide a superior drinking experience, as everyone already knows. It's worth the extra $.01 per thousand.


Straw Spoilers:

A. Starbucks of course. B. McDonald's - one of the first. C. Dunkin Donuts. D. Baskin Robbins. E. Taco Bell. I'm giving them credit for their slushy-like beverages. Their standard straw is generic. F. Dairy Queen. Also famous for those little red spoons. G. KFC. H.  Jamba Joice.

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I. Burger King. C'mon, the King should have a gold straw. End of story. J. Another easy choice. Chik-fil-A should have a cow straw. And I resisted making it an udder, because that's just gross. K. Wendy's should further extend their yellow cups into the straw. And nobody really owns that color yet. L. I thought long and hard about this, but it's for Jack in the Box. Somewhat clown-inspired, using their red and white scheme a bit differently. M. Arby's should use a nice burgundy straw. (By the way their new campaign is really bad. But their site design is interesting.) N. Subway. Keeping it simple, but it's yellow and green and perfect for them. Their plastic-wrapped straw really stink. O. The oft-forgotten chain of Long John Silver's. Utilizing their new colors makes for a handsome straw. P. Hardee's and Carl Jr's. An easy choice here. Though they're more apt to put a bikini model that strips when the straw gets cold or something. Q. White Castle. Done. R. Chipotle should take the foil they're somewhat famous for and use silver for their straw. Simple. But effective.


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Reader Comments (1)

This is a wonderful blog. I think I enjoyed looking at those signature straws and trying to remember what particular company they represent. It's a great exercise in the middle of the day. Well, I think creativity is really the key in creating strong brand presence plus thanks to digital imaging.
July 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergraphic design forum

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