To understand Burton today, you have to know where it all began: Founder Jake Burton Carpenter started making snowboards in his Vermont barn back in 1977. He was trying to improve on the Snurfer (a stand-up sled invented for kids by Sherman Poppen). Jake had a vision for an activity that wasn’t just for kids, but “sledding for college-age people” like himself.
To sell snowboards, Burton had to build up the sport. Their first ads didn’t promote their boards at all — they promoted the idea of snowboarding itself. The company played a hand in convincing ski resorts to share the mountains, while launching programs and partnerships to teach people how to ride. Fast-forward four decades; snowboarding is now an Olympic sport and Burton remains the biggest brand in the industry. But they still operate under the same philosophy: What’s good for snowboarding is good for Burton.
Burton has always been a brand by and for riders, and a huge key to their success is the irreverent, outspoken way they communicate to their customers and fans. But as Burton grew their direct-to-consumer presence, their in-house team was feeling stretched thin. They reached out to Thread to help create product copy that hit two targets:
1) Aligning with the distinctive brand voice and 2) simplifying technical and industry jargon for their shoppers.
When we came in, Burton lacked a documented system to guide their ecom copy production. So we started by digging into their in-house style guide, auditing their existing copy and understanding how product data flowed to their marketing teams. Then we built a comprehensive Burton style guide specifically mapped to the needs of ecom, from SEO and specs to technology definitions.
With this framework in place, Thread steered Burton’s ecom copy toward a consistent and consumer-friendly feel across all their product categories. Next we tackled related projects: refining the product naming process, creating enhanced copy for high-profile PDPs and defining breathability and warmth standards across Burton’s apparel line — all with the goal to help online shoppers choose the right product for their needs.
Anyone who snowboards (and many who don’t) know the Burton name. Our job was to make sure the brand’s origin story came though at every touchpoint and wasn’t diluted as Burton continues to grow. This means standing in the fall line as a fellow rider in every piece of copy we create, grounding everything from apparel tech to snowboard features in the experience of snowboarding — the thrills and rebellious spirit that define the sport.
“The key problem that Thread helped us solve: Customer. Friendly. Descriptions. Our product copy went from a haphazard catalog of technical jargon to an ordered description of what our technology does and why you need it.”
In one word, the upshot is efficiency. Thread’s new process for ecommerce content creation, including standardizing copy style and utilizing Talkoot collaborative copywriting software, received buy-in from all Burton category managers. This translated to less confusion, shorter meetings and fewer emails in everyone’s inbox. Burton trusted Thread to produce the copy and hit the voice, allowing them to focus on other marketing needs. And even when Burton experienced personnel changes, ecom content continued to run like clockwork.
“Thread are kind, knowledgeable people who are good listeners and willing to learn. They have been constantly thinking of ways to improve the process, and each season has become smoother than the last.”