I love the latest trend to use funny, descriptive, and casual language on websites. I think it helps to build trust, credibility, and defines a true culture that doesn't apologize for itself. I also like how it continues the conversation if you arrive there from a social media site.
Some companies make the mistake of trying to sound important and smart with lofty ideas and complicated language. That just falls flat these days. There's also the "let's pretend we are google/zappos/apple" which smacks of "let's just copy them instead of coming up with our own way of doing things."
With social media bringing more transparency to what businesses are really about through customer experiences and comments, companies have a real opportunity. They can harness the power of the web to talk about themselves in a way that gives customers and employees a sense of their true values and culture. Even if I'm not a potential customer or canddate for a given company, if a friend "likes" them on Facebook or tweets about them on twitter, I might go to their website for fun (I'm nerdy like that). If I like what I see, I might recommend to friends saying, "You should work here" or "Don't you need this for your business?" I won't do that if I can't get a real sense of what they are about.
Take Zero Strategist, a company in Portland, OR that provides holistic social media services. I've never met these guys but after reading their open credo, I was inspired to write this posting. One phrase that got my attention was "Don’t Suck or Do Sucky Things." I like the combination of humor and a wink to the things we all said in high school that still apply now in our work lives. The mention of passions on their bio page is makes them more human and helps the reader to connect on a personal level.
My next example is Starr Tincup Marketing out of Fort Worth, TX. Again, I have never met anyone in this company but after checking out their site, I have a very clear picture that it is a zany kind of place where people say what they think, no holds barred. I love the use of photos. One of my favorite quotes from their site has to be this gem on the About page: "Give your audience some credit, not spin and obfuscation. They see through all that jazz-hands bullshit." Starr Tincup clearly has their own brand of everything and they are comfortable in their own skin. The careers page is particularly honest (and hilarious).
The last one is my friends' company Corner Alliance in Washington, DC. Full disclosure, I wrote much of the copy but had lots of team input. Of the three examples, this one is probably the most formal but appropriate given their clients are government agencies. In that context, I think its a welcome and even gutsy departure from the jargony and boring consulting firm sites. The page Our Story really gives you a true sense of the kind of company they have tried to create and why they embarked on this journey.
As you can see, there are so many ways to do this but I think the key to doing it successfully is to create a true portrayal of what your company is really about and who works there with words, images, and ideas that inspire you.