They say all revolutions begin with language. From Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” to Winston Churchill’s “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” the power of a few choice words to stir people to action remains one of the greatest tools we have for creating change in our world. The great brands have always known this. Slogans like “Think Different” and “Just Do It” have built billion dollar empires, transcending product features and benefits to offer audiences an empowering attitude about life. And sustainability is one cause in need of a revolution.
UK-based biotech startup The Magical Mushroom Company (TMMC) is taking a page from these brands, and using great writing to create change. Their cause? The waste produced by common packaging materials—including cardboard and plastic—clogs landfills and pollutes fragile ecosystems. TMMC offers a solution: packages made from organic materials, combining materials harvested from fungi with agricultural waste like sawdust and hemp. They’re leading a sustainability revolution.
The company’s website is chock full of crisp copy that’s both rigorously scientific and full of endearing wit and rousing gusto.
Let’s take a look at what works, and why.
Demand to be heard
Right off the bat, The Magical Mushroom Company demonstrates a compelling and authoritative voice. The homepage headline reads:
Inspired by nature, created with science.
The parallel structure of this line makes it extra memorable, while giving you a sense for the company’s eco-conscious attitude and dedication to empirical rigor.
Having reeled their reader in with a compelling headline, TMMC now faces a challenge that stops many brands dead in their tracks. Namely: How do we explain, exactly, what it is that we do? It’s not an easy task. But TMMC rises to the challenge, summing up their offering like so:
We’re solving the problem of plastic by harnessing the magic of mushrooms.
In one tidy line we’ve got the problem and the solution, along with some alliteration for extra impact. Well done: Now we know what dragon we’re slaying, and how we’re going to defeat it.
Elsewhere on the site, TMMC takes on a more playful tone. Part of the secret to the company’s packaging is chitin, the natural polymer found in mycelium. A pithy headline reads:
Welcome to chitin, nature’s glue.
Here the Magical Mushroom Company gives the reader an a-ha moment, helping them quickly understand the function of chitin in TMMC’s product in a flash of pithy insight. As Aristotle said, all the poetic arts are valuable, but the greatest by far is to be a master of metaphor. With this little bit of metaphorical brilliance, TMMC would make the Ancient Greeks proud.
TMMC also uses copy to help audiences see what they see. One headline reads:
“We call it planet positive packaging.”
By defining what they do in this way, not only does TMCC differentiate themselves from competitors, but they also create a conceptual frame for their product founded on sustainability. This is the power of copywriting—the language acts as a lens through which the world can view your offering.
Educate to inspire
To unpack the “how”, TMMC pushes the boundaries of what copy can do, treating it as a design element in this delightful little equation:
Agricultural Waste + Mycelium + Design = Mushroom Packaging.
It’s so simple a child could understand it—which is exactly what you want when you’re trying to lead a distracted and reluctant audience to a new way of thinking. Plus, it’s bold and feels ahead of its time. You’re not likely to find this kind of design-forward handling of language on a corporate plastic manufacturer’s site.
The teaching continues on the “Science” page, where TMCC explains how they go about creating their packaging in language that strikes a nice balance between scientific detail and layperson readability:
To make Mushroom® Packaging we mix Mycelium, which has a natural polymer Chitin with agricultural by-products. We use the woody core of Hemp in 98% of our products. Hemp has the added benefit of locking up carbon dioxide at the rate of about 15 tonnes per hectare. Hemp isn’t the only answer though – we can work with a wide variety of natural by-products from wheat to sawdust.
Unless you’re in the sustainability industry (and even if you are) odds are you don’t know a whole lot about mushroom-based packaging. TMMC anticipates this knowledge gap, and meets you where you are. Here’s a bit explaining options for disposing the packaging when it’s no longer needed:
End of life options
- Break up into small pieces with your hands
- Biodegradable in your garden pot or green waste
- Place in food waste collection bin for anaerobic digestion
- Use your used packaging for storage or plant pot
With great empathy, TMMC is helping their audience understand how this new product works—so they can be part of the sustainability movement.
We helped a world-class university revamp their web copy
One of the most famous universities on earth, Stanford University was gearing up to start groundbreaking work on campus. But without a robust environmental health and safety website, progress was slow. Unfortunately, its existing copy was clunky, confusing, and hard to navigate. Not for long. After tapping MarketSmiths, we worked closely with both the university and a hired communications agency to put it right, revising hundreds of pages, from Working Safely with Rabbits to the Laser Safety Manual. After relaunching the website, Stanford was ready to start its expansion—and had a website to match its prestige.
Use tons of tone
Just like a human voice, a brand voice can—and should—embody a wide range of tones. The Magical Mushroom Company’s voice doesn’t stop at Creative Wit, Serious Scientist, or Helpful Educator. They also express a tone of Revolutionary Reformer. Check out the bold, no-nonsense edge they bring to their copy here on the About Us page:
Our Mushroom® Packaging is not a concept. It’s not just a ‘nice idea’. It’s a practical and viable alternative to polluting polymers. And because our people are all focussed on delivering at scale for our clients, the aim of removing plastics from the supply chain is more achievable than ever.
Because they’re willing to be a bit forceful in their language, we as readers are more apt to trust that they mean what they say. With this language, TMMC communicates that they’d rather put off the odd few than have some bland copy that doesn’t really get across what they’re all about.
But the edgy tone doesn’t stop there. TMMC takes things one step further with even stronger verbiage urging readers to appreciate why adopting sustainability in packaging is a no-brainer:
Are you still using EPS, PE, XPS or die-cut packaging inserts? If the damage to the environment isn’t enough, then the £200 per tonne tax rate for packaging with less than 30% recycled plastic will persuade you the time is right to switch to the cost-effective, scalable natural alternative.
Sure, it’s a bit finger-pointy—and that’s the point. They can pull off a strong, activist tone without sounding too hostile because it’s buffered by some lighter moments of copy on the site. That helps sell sustainability to customers.
Fancy that: a brand voice that can be humorous, serious, playful, intelligent, confrontational, and charming, all within a single website experience? Sounds like Copywriting for Humans to us.
Mushrooms are magical, and so is great copywriting. Get in touch with MarketSmiths today for help with your next copy or content project.