McDonald’s, the world-famous fast food restaurant features brightly colored golden arches, ample reds, and a savory menu that, together, are elements meant to set McDonald’s apart from the competition. We all remember the excitement of spotting the golden arches during childhood car rides, and it is based on these positive emotions that McDonald’s has been able to dominate in its respective field for decades and enjoy a uniquely strong, instantaneously recognizable brand.

As modern health standards and society’s attention to healthier diets have jointly grown, McDonald’s brand has come under fire for serving increasingly unhealthy, pre-cooked foods that contribute to potentially life-threatening diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular ailments. In an effort to turn things around, McDonald’s quickly realized it had to defend its brand while simultaneously introducing ‘greener’, more healthy alternatives and pay closer attention to the beef and chicken it was serving.

However, and this is where cognitive dissonance kicks in if McDonald’s were to introduce colors and a brand language that delivered a cognitive message separate from the one currently on display, it would widen the dissonance gap and create confusion in the minds of consumers. For this reason, the red-and-gold strategy wasn’t abandoned, yet was molded over time to accommodate McDonald’s’s healthier menu, thus mending the dissonance between what consumers expect of the restaurant and the reality of its menu – all without sacrificing its core brand!