Earlier this week, Fool contributor Brian Gorman declared these days "Golden Times for Golden Arches," citing recent financial results at fast-food giant McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) that indicate continued strength in the burger business. But there's at least one market where the arches may need a buffing: the U.K., where, according to reports, the company is starting a two-week ad campaign in which it ditches the arches in favor of a golden question mark and the tagline "McDonald's. But not as you know it."

I for one don't believe that in so doing, McDonald's will create some kind of "brand vacuum," as some folks can be found to have said in media reports. Nor do I think the company is acting out of fear that its established brand is tarnished, as suggested by others -- but that's me. I'd guess that if, for the next two weeks, Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) decided to mark its famous red cans with the word "bortle" in white cursive text, most folks would drink 'em without hesitation. (Heck, they'd probably sell like hotcakes.)

What is of note here is that McDonald's has given the green light to the managers in a major overseas market to take liberties with its well-known, expensively established brand identity in order to make a stab at health-conscious consumers in, if you believe the hype, an increasingly health-conscious U.K., where there are currently more than 1,000 Ye Olde McDonald's outlets.

Part of a campaign that will highlight fresh veggies and fruit, as well as include 17 million mailings to British households, it's yet another sign that McDonald's is now paying far more than lip service to folks who don't want a Big Mac -- but also want a quick, cheap, meal served by someone other than mum. (Crazy, I know, but they call the Big Mac the "Big Mac" over there.)

McDonald's isn't the only restaurateur doing this: Hardee's owner CKE Restaurants (NYSE:CKR), for instance, has gone after both salad eaters and low-carb beef buffs with its offerings, while Jack in the Box (NYSE:JBX) has made a reenergized menu a cornerstone of its brand revitalization. There'll always be a market for the Big Mac and fries -- even in the U.K. -- but it's increasingly hard to believe that healthier eating is a passing fad. The effort fast-food companies are making to capitalize it is pretty strong evidence.

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Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story.