How to Guides

Business transformation through emotional connection – the McDonald’s recipe for success



  • Emily Nichols
    Emily Nichols

    Manager of Internal Communications, McDonald’s USA


  • Tim Vaughan
    Tim Vaughan

    Head of Content, Poppulo

Businesses facing large scale transformation due to the fall-out from COVID-19 could do well to learn from McDonald’s. This guide tells the story of how an ingenious internal communications strategy helped align the restaurant chain’s 2,000 US franchise owners with the most ambitious business transformation in the company’s history.

McDonald’s was acutely aware that the success of the three-year modernization program, which required significant change and major investment, would depend on alignment with the franchise owners.  The internal comms team also knew the scale and pace of change facing the franchise owners meant they would inevitably experience a roller-coaster of emotions.

To meet this challenge the team devised a twin-track strategy of regularly monitoring franchisee sentiment through quarterly polling, while simultaneously creating a broad range of content carefully tailored to meet the owners’ anticipated mood changes over the three-year program.

This very human, people-centric approach, allied to the hard data gleaned from the frequent polling analytics, resulted in what Emily Nichols of McDonald’s calls “creating content for every mood; formulating content based on audience sentiment” and was a resounding success. This guide shows how it was achieved.