Have you ever wondered why so many superhero movies are "origin stories" -- focused on that moment when a regular person becomes a superhero?
Some argue that audiences love to witness the dramatic change when an ordinary guy becomes superhuman -- leaping tall buildings in a single bound, running faster than a locomotive and the like. We fantasize about making that transformation ourselves, the theory goes.
I'm inclined to agree with a different theory, one I came across in Smithsonian Magazine. A clinical psychologist describes the appeal of origin stories this way:
I think origin stories show us not how to become super but how to be heroes, choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power ... At their best, superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose.
And that is the model that every business should use to describe itself on the "About Us" page of its website. It's your company's chance to tell its origin story -- and to make your brand a hero your customers can trust.
Why Your "About Us" Page Is Crucial to Building Trust
First, let's talk about the importance of your "About Us" page. Did you know that 52 percent of people go to your "About Us" page first when they visit your website? That means they may never make it to your product and pricing pages if they don't like what they see.
According to an Accenture study, 65 percent of consumers say they consider the words, values, and actions of a company's leaders in making purchasing decisions. That doesn't necessarily mean you should take a controversial stand on political issues. But it does mean your website's visitors are more likely to trust you if you seem to share their values.
Telling Your Origin Story
Telling your superhero story begins with the nuts and bolts, the 5Ws:
- Who are your company's leaders?
- What are your company's mission and goals?
- When did you realize you had an idea that could help people?
- Where are you better than the other guys?
- Why should buyers trust you enough to do business with you?
Most "About Us" pages include some or all of these components. Unfortunately, they are often written as an afterthought and with little narrative flair. That's a huge missed opportunity.
Imagine if I told you Spider-Man's origin story this way:
- Spider-Man is a teenage boy named Peter Parker;
- His purpose is to fight crime and his goal is to become an Avenger;
- He realized he could help people when he gained spider-like abilities;
- He is better than the other guys because his spidey sense gives him advance warning of danger;
- He can be trusted because of what he learned from his Uncle Ben's death.
Wow, makes you want to dive right in and watch all 10 of those Spider-Man movies, right?
Compare that to this version:
High school student Peter Parker was at a science exhibition when the unimaginable happened: a common house spider got in the path of a particle accelerator beam and was irradiated. The stricken spider fell on Peter's hand, bit him and died.
Peter quickly discovered he had gained the powers of a spider, including superhuman strength, the ability to cling to and climb walls, and a "spidey sense" that warned him of danger. He called himself Spider-Man.
At first Spider-Man used these powers for his amusement. But after the murder of his beloved Uncle Ben, Peter began to use his powers to fight crime. He still has remorse for failing to save his uncle, and now understands that with great power comes great responsibility. That's why he is trusted and beloved as the "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man."
So, are you ready to give your own origin story the superhero treatment? Believe me, you can do it.
To inspire you, here's an example -- from a company that sells hammocks:
In 2011, while on vacation in Thailand, our co-founder Joe embarked on an impromptu motorcycle adventure that led him to discover the world’s most comfortable hammock hanging outside a hut on a tiny island.
The hammocks were unlike anything Joe had ever seen or felt before, and he knew he had to share them with the world. He bought as many as he could fit in his backpack and headed home, ready to turn his vacation dream into a reality.
Joe teamed up with his now-wife Rachel to establish Yellow Leaf—bringing a curated collection of beautifully crafted, ultra-comfortable hammocks to the masses, while giving back to the original crafters of the world’s most comfortable hammocks.
Each individual Yellow Leaf hammock is handwoven with the utmost precision and care by the expert craftswomen of the Mlabri Tribe – “the people of the yellow leaves” – in the hills of Northern Thailand. Across three weaving communities, we are working to create jobs for mothers and build a foundation for positive community transformation.
Doing good while relaxing? We can hang with that.
That's a superhero story. And I believe if you dig deep enough, every brand has one.
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