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I'm lovin' it.

You don't need to be an advertising expert to know that writing a catchy jingle and associating it with a brand is not a new thing. General Mills was selling Wheaties via song as early as 1926, and Coca-Cola perfected the art with “I'd like to buy the world a Coke,” a jingle that became a chart-topper in the 1970s.

McDonald's took it a step further, teaming with pop singer Justin Timberlake to create an iconic song that would inspire a feeling— even a craving— for McDonald's food. They then coupled this with a strategy for consistency that spans everything from how the floors are mopped to how the food smells in their restaurants. You're not eating any old french fries when you go there, you're eating McDonald's french fries.

Our association with smell and taste is a funny thing. According to researchers at Oregon State University, we often smell food and associate a flavor or even a feeling with that food, when the food itself may have limited or even no "real" flavor.

So when we eat at McDonald's are we enjoying the food? Maybe not. Maybe we're enjoying the scent that we've learned is a representation of the food and the taste itself is merely imagined. This ingenious process is developed in a lab out of New Jersey run by the Haarmann & Reimer Corporation. Here, scents can replicate BBQ chicken, chocolate chip cookies, char-broiled burgers and french fries while no actual food is present. The smells come in the form of liquids or powders used as additives to the actual food.

Is this consistency gone too far, or marketing genius? McDonald’s uses the melody I'm lovin' it while showing us images of cheeseburgers and milk shakes. We can actually remember the smell of that food— unique to their restaurant— and have a craving to go and buy it. Add to this consistent service and the familiar look and feel of each individual restaurant, and you have a brand that has turned a simple burger business from San Bernardino into a global powerhouse of consistency.

To learn more about training consistency for your restaurant staff click here.

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