Roles: Content Strategist, Copywriter
Design: Chelsea Carpenter Gil
Chipotle was mounting its first major site redesign in 5 years and needed to rethink the presentation of Food With Integrity, the central philosophy that guides the brand. A lot had happened since the brand introduced the phrase—philanthropic measures, Willie Nelson covers—and Chipotle was fully carrying the banner, but nowhere on the site could a customer find a powerful articulation of its commitment to real food.
As Chipotle was tossing practically everything from its old site, it gave Sequence no directive as to what the FWI page should contain. With a blank slate and a plum storytelling opportunity, I set about surveying the extensive scope of Chipotle’s actions in the name of FWI, and how it had previously spoken about the concept to customers. The existing page wasn’t providing a comprehensive or affecting narrative encompassing all the ways the brand is singular in its desire to do good. It required users to click on a video and click through paragraphs of copy, and would certainly not have survived the planned responsive makeover.
This is the before:
Taking into account my assessment of the existing site and the evolution of FWI since then, and keeping in mind the audience and the need for the page to be somewhat evergreen, I concluded that far more compelling and digestible than a timeline of FWI would be telling the story across three arenas: the kitchen, the farm, and everything beyond. A timeline would require regular updating and redesigning to keep it current…and nobody has time for that. I presented the following plan to Chipotle.
I also stressed how the voice and tone on the page would diverge slightly from the way of speaking the brand is known for.
Once I got the thumbs up to move forward, I wrote a brand manifesto that encapsulated Chipotle’s journey and values—a compact version of the story, beginning with a transformative moment for founder Steve Ells, that aligned all of the team around what we were trying to convey and the tone we were trying to strike.
Here’s the manifesto:
From there, I set about sorting content into In The Kitchen, On The Farm, and Beyond. I had a trove of facts and figures that Chipotle’s FWI team had plopped in my lap, and I cherry-picked the strongest proof points and topics to address that didn’t require deep knowledge of the food industry to understand. Monoculture was in; waste lagoons were out. I went on to write the copy for the most story-driven page of Chipotle.com. The result is both informational and inspirational. Here it is.
I’d originally proposed to begin the page with the farm content, but starting off with the kitchen proved narratively stronger. The kitchen is what customers are most familiar with, and through scrolling down, they progressively see that Chipotle’s care and concern radiates outward from there into larger and varied domains.
The “Learn more” links in the farm module are for the people who really want to dive deeper, and the resulting overlays educate users about things like Chipotle’s stance on antibiotics and its minimum space requirements for animals.
The use of ambient video in the kitchen modules lends an immediate sense of the constant movement and engagement in the kitchen, which is very real (we went behind the scenes one day, and the staff really know their way around an avocado). The Beyond section hammers home Chipotle’s unique position in the food world, highlighting such forays as marquee events and media initiatives.
The manifesto I wrote didn’t make it onto the live site, but I wrote another, shorter one that did. When you land on the page and begin to scroll, a statement about the company’s commitment unfurls in the hero area as accompanying cloud shapes animate in. Here are some excerpts.