Three reasons why Arc should win the battle of browsers

January 13, 2023

It is so unbelievably rare these days for a business to be meaningfully differentiated through its technology, or even its UX, alone.

Emily Hayward

Context switching is the enemy # 1 to high-quality work. And I've observed that most of it happens in the browser. For the last couple of years I've been trying to make my browsing experience more efficient by reducing context switching.

To begin with I tried different browsers for different use cases - Safari for personal, Chrome for client work, etc. But that didn't work because I had to remember (heuristic principle #6 'recognition rather than recall') which browser I need to go to. Then I tried different user profiles in Chrome, but that led to multiple windows and tab overwhelm. In the summer of 2022 I discovered Shift. Shift did solve the issue to a large extent. I felt their product was built around my JTBD but their support was disappointing (esp. for a paid subscriber).

And then in late 2022, I heard about Arc.

Arc isn't just the greatest browser ever, it could well be one of the most thoughtful digital product in the recent past. Inverse says - Arc the best web browser to come out in the last decade.

Arc's feature set is a gift to today's knowledge worker. It makes browsing fun by reducing cognitive overload and context switching. There have been several new browsers launched recently, and chances are more will follow. I'll be rooting for Arc though, because I feel (surprisingly) invested in the product already.

I love it because Arc isn’t just a great product with a pretty logo on top—it’s a powerful brand with a story that weaves through every single pixel. Because what is a brand, but a story?

When you hear the words "Google Chrome" or "Safari", what comes to mind? Most likely their logos or, in my case, the feeling of 'tab overwhelm'. Moreover, I don't know anything about the teams working on these browsers. But when I say "Arc", I immediately think of these amazing humans on a mission to solve my problem.

I feel I know the team working on Arc. They call themselves 'The Browser Company of New York' (BCNY) (love that name :)). These people are exceptionally talented, fun, and creative. Their YouTube videos are awesome and I went back on Twitter (after a gap of two years) just to follow them.

As an Arc evangelist I want the product to succeed. And I am not the only one, Arc has a rapidly growing fanbase. The fact that they've created such a large community of loyal users already, speaks volumes. How did they do it? That's the question that fascinates me. Here is what makes Arc so special:

1. Storytelling: BCNY excels at storytelling. Their stories reflect the vision and values for what the company stands for.

BCNY's vision from their homepage - "At the Browser Company, we're building a better way to use the internet". While the Arc website says ''Arc is your space to breathe on the internet". Please note they didn't say reinventing the browser or making 'the Chrome killer'.

Their content has the flavour of both the 'Creator' and 'Outlaw' brand archetypes, which aligns well with their vision. They've managed to find a way to make even the most mundane 'product updates' video engaging through carefully crafted stories..

Our brains process stories differently than straight facts. It's why positioning and messaging is best done through stories—an employee's, a customer's, the product's, or the company's—and product marketing must be good at telling stories that bring it all together.

Martina Lauchengco

2. Culture - The brand-culture sync here is inspiring.

Arc is a 'build in public' case-study. Josh Miller, the CEO of BCNY, shared a video talking about the company's 2023 plans and highlights from their board meeting. As a user, it's incredible to be able to have a front row seat to the future of browsers, and it makes me feel deeply connected to the team.

How your brand operates on the inside is more important than how it looks on the outside. Your internal culture—how your employees communicate and behave—defines your brand more than your logo or website. Your culture is your brand strategy.

Culture Built my Brand

If you've made it so far, I'm sure you're someone who's heard the epic tales of SouthWest Airlines and Zappos customer centric culture. The playful and friendly company culture can be experienced both through the product and communication.

Josh Miller, the CEO of BCNY, in the video talks about goals for 2023

3. Brand Led Experience: There's a feeling baked into the Arc browser experience.

This is a remarkable accomplishment and an even rarer feat for a digital product – crafting an experience that is brand led and thoughtful. The distinct brand personality is embodied in the tweets, culture, emailers, and merchandise.

The trick is to maintain a consistent voice as you move from medium to medium. Your business card should feel like your signage. Your website should feel like your newspaper ad. The tone you strike on Twitter should feel like your website posts.

Terry O'Reilly
Even if you are content with your current web browser, try Arc just to experience the delightful onboarding process.

Arc has many such details that bring a smile in the mind. Everything is fun, clever, and smart - onboarding, UX copy, and even the invite. I'm not surprised that "Make them feel something" is one of BCNY's values.

Before you move to your next read, request you to pause and let it sync for a moment - I'm talking about a product in private beta. George Bernard Shaw's advice applies to products as well as people - "take care to get born well".

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