Monday, August 11, 2014

Berry Plastics: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

In 1967, Imperial Plastics was established in Evansville, Indiana, where the company is still headquartered. After its acquisition by Jack Berry, Sr., in 1983, the company expanded via the acquisition of more than 30 related businesses. Today Berry is one of the largest plastics packaging producers in the world, with 80-odd manufacturing plants employing more than 25,000 people. Its annual sales top $5 billion.  Clients include Walmart, Target, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and Procter & Gamble. The company went public in 2012. Berry Plastic’s main About Us page is here.


Products/Services: D
The main About Us page, Corporate, offers the briefest of summaries: when the company was founded and what its goals were and are. Because the text is so short, the oddity of the final sentence stands out: “Our impressive list of customers is evidence of our commitment to provide, on a world-wide scale.” To provide what? Our Commandment 9 of About Us pages is, “Worship clarity.” Small errors suggest lack of attention to more important points.

The Corporate page is not enticing: little text, no images. Why not liven it up with a collage of images such as appears on the Products page? Or some of the material in well-thought-out brochures such as this one? Or the information on the Investors page? In a printed book, repetition is boring. On the web, it’s a necessity, since many visitors will jump unpredictably from one page to another.

The News page consists of a list of press releases, but buried among them are mentions of several awards. A separate Awards page would make these more impressive and easier to find.

The introduction to the Company History page is confusing: it says Berry welcomes the opportunity “to share information regarding our success stories and continued support of our local communities and environment.” Why say this if there are no pages on the site that offer such stories? And if there are such pages, why not link to them here?

The same page has a timeline that’s of manageable length, because it highlights only major events. So far, so good. But it’s basically a list of acquisitions, so it falls rather flat as corporate storytelling. In addition, some entries need to be rewritten for a general audience: what does “Entered the closure market” mean? Here, too, images of Berry products or vintage ads would make the page much more enticing.

Personality: E
Our Commandment 3 of About Us pages is, “Reveal thy personality.” There is no personality here. Jack Berry, Sr., is mentioned in three timeline entries, but we’re given no sense of him as a person or a CEO. The bio of Jonathan Rich, the current CEO, is buried under Investors (top menu) / Corporate Governance (side menu) / Management (link near top center). Once we found his bio, it was boilerplate fare, without a single quote from Rich or any indication of his management goals. Nor are there any quotes from division managers or employees to create a sense of the company’s personality.

Accessibility: C
The Contact page is standard: mailing address, telephone, and an online form. Including the names of the heads of specific departments would give a sense that Berry Plastic’s employees really do want to hear from us.

If you’re too close to your site to evaluate it, have an outsider check whether you’re making the best use of your content to express your personality, show off your products, and stay in touch with your customers.

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). To talk about your About Us page, contact us!
Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company.