Brand stories = brain freeze for many companies. It can be tough to put what you’re all about into words. But it’s not impossible…if you know what goes into creating polished About content.
Wait…what’s that? You don’t know what goes into it? In that case, tentree’s example is a good one to follow. Check out 10 important lessons you can learn from the About Us page of this amazing sustainable clothing brand.
10 Things You Can Learn From tentree’s About Us
We’ll take tentree’s brand story a section at a time and see what strategy moves you could make to improve your own story and About content. Let’s tackle the hero section first.
Lesson #1: The “Us” in “About Us” Includes Your Audience
Phrases like “About Us” and “bio” are so misleading. No wonder so many brands end up sounding self-consumed and/or boring everyone to death; they think they’re supposed to write all about themselves! But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
tentree is a stellar example of how it should be done. Its About page perfectly balances talking about the brand and including its audience in the story. Just two sentences in and the copy has already shifted to customers’ role in the company’s mission and the impact being made by tentree and its supporters collectively.
If you want to grab and hold the attention of your audience, you have to strike this balance too. It should be clear how your story and mission are relevant to each person reading about them. Otherwise, you’ll just be rambling off facts with very little meaning for or personal connection to your audience. And the less your brand message resonates with people, the harder it will be to gain their support.
Lesson #2: Lay a Foundation of Credibility
Without credibility and trust, all aspects of branding, marketing, and sales are 100 times harder to master. So you’ve got to build up your cred as early as possible during any interaction with your audience.
tentree’s running tally of trees planted to date illustrates this point. It immediately solidifies that the company isn’t all talk; it’s actually living up to its brand promise and making a difference.
So whether you have a tally like this, impressive testimonials from your most enthusiastic customers, or any other kind of trust-builder, make sure it’s visible. Don’t bury it way down near the bottom of the page. People may not get that far. But, on the flip side, if you build trust early, you’ll be more likely to keep them engaged ‘til the very end.
Now, besides including your audience in your story and establishing credibility ASAP, what else should you do? tentree’s mission statement provides a good reminder.
Lesson #3: Show, Don’t Tell
As a great follow-up to our last point about credibility, prioritizing showing over telling is a big deal. We’ve all had experiences with brands who talk a great game but fail to deliver time and time again. Wouldn’t you agree that this makes us pickier about which brands we trust and engage with?
The flip side of this is that, if you want people to engage with your brand willingly, you have to prove that you’re about what you say you’re about. And, no, it’s not something you can dangle like a carrot or a reward after people buy from or invest in you. You’re expected to prove it beforehand.
So do as tentree does and give context on exactly how you’re making the impact you say you hope to make.
Onward! To the next section we go.
Lesson #4: Common Ground is Compelling
Narrow focus is an easy trap to fall into. tentree could’ve focused this entire page solely on the initiative it’s best known for—planting trees. But is that really what the brand is about? Nope.
As the mission section showed, it goes way beyond that. tentree’s core value is all-around sustainability, something that its audience values too (along with ethical manufacturing). So by expanding beyond the idea of “just planting trees,” the chances of people being willing to support tentree skyrocket.
The takeaway? To boost the chances of people being willing to support you, highlight the core values you have in common. Drill down to the real why behind what you do.
…speaking of your why, that brings us to an important and closely-related topic—your vision. Take a look at tentree’s vision section and see what stands out to you (besides the vibrant image, of course).
Lesson #5: Be Specific About Your Vision
There’s no room for doubt about what tentree aims to accomplish and by when. The same goes for what the brand has already accomplished. All the key details are there. Why is this important?
Well, people say all sorts of things with the best of intentions but…you see where I’m going with this. Without specifics, your brand vision can seem like just another block of text written to fill space on your website or to make you look good. With details, though, you prove that you’re serious about what you’re doing. Then, it’s much easier for people who vibe with what you’re doing to get on board.
So put some serious thought into how to communicate where you’re going, how you’ll get there, and where you’re at on the road to accomplishing that ultimate goal. It will build trust, as will using the next tip we’ll cover, which is based on tentree’s logo showcase.
Lesson #6: Take Every Opportunity to Build Community
“It takes a village…” You know that saying, right? It speaks to the power of community, which happens to be a huge part of branding. And not just in the sense of building an engaged, supportive audience; it also applies to business connections and partnerships.
If it’s clear that other trusted organizations are backing your efforts, you’ll automatically be more trustworthy than the brand that tries to change the world while flyin’ solo. After all, most people aren’t just pumped to spend their hard-earned money on your stuff. They ultimately want to be part of a success story, part of a movement. So make them part of yours.
To do that, though, you have to get people to have meaningful interactions with you, which is what we’re talking about next.
Lesson #7: Brand Stories Should Support Marketing & Sales
People tend to treat About content like an island. They leave it detached from the rest of their messaging and strategy, almost as if its only purpose is to give background on their companies.
News flash! Giving context is indeed important. But bios and About Us pages are just as much a part of your strategy as other content. They can and should support your big-picture branding, marketing, and sales efforts.
As tentree shows in the Big Change Starts Small section, you don’t have to shove sales pitches down people’s throats. You don’t have to be salesy at all. tentree simply gives a reminder of the huge impact of small, low-pressure, low-commitment actions and gives people a gentle nudge to follow-through.
But, of course, not everyone will follow through and start shopping right away. So that’s where the final call-to-action section comes into play.
Lesson #8: Create Opportunities to Nurture Future Customers
This final call-to-action teaches us about being forward-thinking. As mentioned, not everyone will be ready to start shopping immediately after reading tentree’s brand story. That’s okay. But, it’s not okay not to try to maintain contact with as many of those people as possible. Can you imagine how many opportunities would be missed monthly without this call-to-action?
The lesson? Set the stage for future contact with people who aren’t ready to take more serious steps in the moment. That way, you can keep in touch and progressively heighten their interest in what you do or offer.
Lesson #9: Audience-Focused Calls-to-Action Reduce Hesitation
The basic “Join Our Email List” call-to-action is pretty standard; we see it everywhere all the time. While it can prompt some signups, there’s a better way. Notice how this section is entirely focused on the person reading rather than on tentree and its goal of getting email addresses.
Why does this approach work? Rather than people feeling like they’re signing up to be marketed to until they either buy or unsub, they feel as if they’re choosing to be part of something important. It puts the power in their hands, makes them more likely to take the desired action, and primes them to be more receptive to future communications. It helps them accomplish their goal of supporting sustainability and it supports tentree’s goals as well, which is a win on both sides.
Lesson #10: Sweeten the Pot…Subtly
Throughout the tentree About page, there are incentives to support the brand—the core values, the company vision, the admirable impact the brand has already made. All of those can be powerful motivators, especially combined.
But tentree gives an added incentive with its 10% off offer. It’s not in your face; there are no flashy banners advertising it or thinly-veiled pleas to get people to fill their carts. None of that is necessary here. And, in many cases, this kind of gentle incentive could work just as well as (if not better than) its big and bold counterparts. Try adding a mellow, no pressure incentive sometime 😉
If you take this and the other nine lessons we discussed to heart, you’re bound to end up with a much more compelling brand story than you would writing off-the-cuff. But to make sure you really knock it out of the park, here are a handful of additional tips that’ll help.
BONUS: 5 Extra Tips For Creating a Killer Brand Story
In addition to the foundational principles we’ve covered, here are some extra tips and reminders to improve your brand storytelling.
- First things first, chill out. Especially when you’ve had trouble writing About content in the past, it’s easy to tense up and go into brain fart mode when giving it another go. But the less pressure you put on yourself, the better.
Don’t be afraid to start with a messy brain dump just to get all the relevant details out of your head and onto a page. You can tackle making sense of them later (and even in stages if it’s too much to sift through and refine at once).
- Keep it simple. tentree’s story isn’t long-winded and it doesn’t use complicated or frilly language to try to trick people into caring about the brand.
Likewise, you don’t necessarily need to give an in-depth play-by-play of your story. Nor do you need to whip out your thesaurus looking for fancy synonyms to make your message “stand out”. Go for clarity.
- Start with a list. Grab some paper and list out what you plan to say about yourself, your team, your mission and vision, etc. Then, go down the list and, for each point, ask yourself, “Why should anyone care?” Work the answers into your actual brand story for more depth (the kind of depth that builds relationships with your customers and wider audience).
- Have others give feedback on your brand story draft. An outsider’s perspective can be very helpful for understanding what’s missing from your brand story, what needs more pizazz, what details could be taken out or toned down, and so on. Ask others what they think!
- Get inspired. Browse the stories of other businesses (in and outside of your industry).
No clue where to start? Look into the stories of your favorite brands and, as you do, take note of what resonates with you and why. Then, see how you might be able to use some of the same techniques to bring your own story and message to life.
By now, you’re pretty well prepared to take a crack at communicating your brand story. So get to it and see what you can come up with! If you find yourself stuck at any point during the process, hit me up and we’ll chat about how to get you pointed in the right direction.