Lesson Task : McDonalds and the SCAMPER model

The lesson task stated that we had to: Use the Internet to research the history of the fast food chain McDonald’s and explain which parts of the SCAMPER model are evident in its development onto its current success.

Firstly, what is the Scamper model, and how is it applicable to the development of McDonalds and their great success.

SCAMPER is an abbreviation for: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify/Magnify(/Minify), Put to another use, Eliminate(/elaborate) and Reverse. I will not use every single one as an example, and some of the points might overlap.


Amongst other things, McDonalds substituted dishes and cutlery for disposable paper packaging in 1948. Substitution is, however, still a method they use, as they in more recent years have replaced the plastic straw with paper straws. In both cases they moved to resources that were easier to dispose, and smarter considering that they evolved into a fast food chain, where dishes and cutlery would be obsolete and add more work. (Washing, providing new when broken etc.)


Most people would be familiar with the combination of food and a toy in the Happy Meals aimed for children, and the effect of this is mostly excitement and anticipation that the promise of a new toy instigates.  

Another example is the area for children to play, included in several McDonalds restaurant could be said to be a combination of a playground with a fast food restaurant.


McDonalds owners most likely asked themselves some of the questions below:

  • What would we need to change to reach better results?
  • How can we improve the existing process/make the process more flexible?

One of the solutions were to boil down their menus to the most popular ones. (Which belongs to the method of elimination) Here is where the adaption comes in. They redesigned their kitchens around their menus (this is perhaps also an example of reversal as one might usually design the kitchen to suit what you are intent on making. This led to more efficiency, as the kitchen now functioned more like an assembly line, enabling the workers to finish an order at the whopping speed of 30 seconds.

Moreover, they established McCafé adaption in 2009 to the franchise, where they mainly sell cakes/biscuits and coffee as opposed to burgers and fries. This could cater more to people seeking a place to sit and work/study/chat with friends.

Modify, minify or magnify

As mentioned Mcdonalds “minified” their menus predominantly to fries, burgers and sodas, to enable faster production. However, they exercised “Magnify” as a method both when it came to later expanding the menu, but also expanding the whole franchise to the rest of the world. McDonalds is no longer restrained to the US but can today be found in 119 countries.

Put to another use

The aforementioned paper straws, although not recyclable, are amongst other objects being used to generate energy, according to McDonalds.

Reverse or rearrange

Apart from rearranging the exterior and interior look of McDonalds restaurants, the Logo itself has undergone quite some change when compared to the first logo (at the top left corner). However, as you might observe, the later changes of the iconic M logo, is a matter of rearranging the logo ever so slightly.


This concludes the research I did on McDonalds, and of course there is much more to focus on, as they might utilize one or more of these points for most decisions that they make in terms of packaging, kitchen design, design of eating area and so on. The essence to be drawn from this information is the amount of adaption, redesign and finding of new solutions that companies have to perform in order to stay afloat and stay relevant. How can we do this differently? How can we reach a broader audience? How can we create a more environmentally friendly and sustainable image? It is not unreasonable to assume that McDonalds will continue to develop and adapt in the future, and it will be exciting to spectate the future changes and adaptions.


[Picture 1] McDonald’s Logo. Retrieved from https://1000logos.net/mcdonalds-logo/

Rafiq Elmansy: A Guide to the SCAMPER Technique for Creative Thinking. Retrieved from

[Picture 2] McDonald’s Logo. Retrieved from https://1000logos.net/mcdonalds-logo/

Publisert av Alice Birkeland

Hi! I'm a Graphic Design student at Noroff, in addition to studying Japanese language and culture at UiO. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about my projects or if you share some of these fields of interest ~

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