It’s Not How It Looks


McDonald’s needed a change.  Moms with nugget-fueled preschoolers meeting for playdates used to be their bread and butter, but the butter was now being spread across other venues, especially coffeeshops.  Working professionals were spending their time, and their money, at Starbucks, not McDonald’s.  So they added coffeeshop-style drinks, and then invested more than a billion dollars to remodel 14,000 U.S. locations (Details here).  They changed the color of the interiors to the same earth tones you find in Starbucks, bought espresso machines, and began offering free WiFi in all of their restaurants. 

I stopped in to a McDonald’s the other day, and was confronted by this sign in the dining area:

McDonald’s changed their restaurants to look more like Starbucks, but missed the point.  Starbucks serves caffeinated beverages, is painted in earth tones, and has free WiFi, but that’s not why people spend their money and their time there.  Starbucks has a feel, and the feel conveys who they are.  They write your first name on your cup as if you’re at a party where everyone has their name written on their solo cup with a sharpie so they don’t accidentally sip your Diet Dr. Pepper instead of their super-sweet southern iced tea.  You can sit there for hours writing papers (or blogs, or facebook statuses) and no one will tell you your time is up.  This small sign conveys what McDonald’s values: speed.  Buy it, eat it, and get out.

Recently, a friend visited a large church in Atlanta.  When asked to describe it in one word, she would tell you it was “Cold.”  One of her comments was, “You’d think with that many people to draw from, they would choose the right people to be out front.  They must have some friendlier people in the church.” Another was, “The hallways and common spaces were big and blank.”  She contacted the church, let them know she was visiting from another city where she is in ministry, and asked if they could share information about one of their ministries.  She was told no.  The word community is in their purpose/vision statement, but this young lady felt anything but community.

Are your volunteers, physical property, printed collateral, and conversations conveying what you say are your priorities?