🎯 Arc’s build-in-public playbook

One nugget from the internet’s favourite content strategy

Read time: 4 minutes 32 seconds

For a tiny team, we have an irresponsibly long list of things we’d ‘like to someday do’. Allocating time to work on one thing implies not putting it towards something else.

Meaningful projects require focus, and if you’ve been following along with our 6 month and 1 year retrospectives, you’d know that we have some big ideas for what future ‘versions’ of Strategy Breakdowns might look like.

From today, for roughly the next 3 months, we’re committing to creating space for longer-term goals.

For now, that means dropping our usual programming from 1 email per week to 1 email every 2 weeks.

 

Excited to share what we’re cooking up soon!

Tom

P.S. If you enjoy today’s article and decide to use this Arc invite link, I unlock some new app icons. Currently at 5 referrals - help me get to 15!

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Arc’s build-in-public playbook

Chess Move

The what: A TLDR explanation of the strategy

It’s rare to meet an Arc user who isn’t a passionate vocal supporter of The Browser Company (the creators of Arc).

Arc Browser might have a higher % of ‘superfans’ among its users (or as they call them, ”members”) than any other software product.

(Speculation, but anecdotally it certainly feels this way… which means the following strategy is working as intended).

Most marketing playbooks prioritise generating new customers. The Browser Company has built a carefully constructed content marketing ecosystem designed specifically to make people want them to win.

It starts with their underdog narrative - taking on Google Chrome to build “a better way to use the internet”.

This storyline underpins all of their marketing efforts, inviting anyone who discovers the brand to join the crusade.

One content pillar worth closely analysing is their weekly ‘Release Notes’; the changelog of version updates that appear in-product for active users to consume.

This is how the updates appear in the desktop app - when you click ‘See What’s New’, it takes you to the latest Release Notes.

For most software, in-product notifications linking to “What’s new” are ignored, or at best skimmed by your most loyal users.

Somehow, Arc has turned this digital no-mans-land into a broadcast that builds trust and excitement on a weekly basis.

The fan love they’ve built through this often-overlooked channel is no joke.

💡

Strategy Playbook: Create media that invokes the feeling of being ‘part of the team’.

Breakdown

The how: The strategic playbook boiled down to 3x key takeaways

1.  Create a scrapbook, not a press release

Arc’s Release Notes are deliberately scrappy, unpolished, and loveable.

Quirky fonts + hand-drawn arrows + assorted emojis + retro icons

The language is casual and tongue-in-cheek, so readers can immediately sense that ‘Arc doesn’t take itself too seriously’.

Interwoven throughout the feature updates and bug fixes are links to videos, interviews, demos, livestreams, and other media that tell the broader Arc story happening in parallel to the product changes.

You get the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind each update, not just the ‘what’

Bold updates come with bold Release Notes

The pages themselves are built using an Arc feature called ‘Easel’: a lightweight whiteboard for jotting down ideas, pasting images, saving quotes, and quickly sharing your clippings with friends or colleagues.

Using ‘Easels’ to build the Release Notes isn’t just advertising for the feature — it also reinforces the casual communication format of the updates themselves, since the very purpose of Easels is stashing important ideas and sharing them in an unpolished and low-friction way.

2. Make it personal

The old way:

Added Google Calendar to sidebar.

The Arc way:

The old way:

Fixed performance bugs.

The Arc way:

  • “Here are a few recent fixes that we found and solved, thanks to you!

  • “Please keep sending us feedback as we made Arc the best possible browser, for you!

  • “We’re hoping to build something new and different — and we can only do that with you.

  • “Somewhere in Brooklyn, and all around the world, there are 70-something people dreaming up a better way to use the internet. Act II begins today and they, well, we know we couldn’t do it without you.

The old way:

Improved Search UI.

The Arc way:

CEO Josh Miller asking his Twitter followers for suggestions on a new feature design

Arc turns each update into a community celebration.

  • They actively ask the community for input, encouraging members to co-design the product.

  • They give genuine thanks to those who give their time to provide feedback.

  • They share the names and faces of the team that worked on each improvement.

  • They let the maker give the update themselves by linking directly to social posts on their personal accounts.

  • They create short films to crystallise the moment.

Each update (no matter how small) gives Arc members a story to appreciate, a personal connection, and an invitation to feel 1% closer to The Browser Company.

3. Create an ecosystem entry point for your top users

The Release Notes are not just about Arc, the product.

They are a window into Arc, the story.

Release Notes are served in-product, meaning they are only accessed by (1) existing users, who (2) enjoy information about Arc (not just using Arc).

In other words — the perfect segment to welcome into the broader Arc ecosystem.

Arc content is broadcasted across YouTube, TV, every social media platform, email newsletter, website blog, and even employee’s personal social accounts. Release Notes are the hubs that curate the highlights and share them directly to the most relevant cohort of users.

In case you haven’t subscribed to their YouTube Channel, Arc uses the Release Notes as a vehicle to point you to a candid Q&A session with their CEO opening up about their struggle to settle on a vision for Arc on mobile.

You’re unlikely to follow the member who happened to redesign the Arc logo, which ended up being added as an alternative desktop app icon. Arc shares this tiny heartwarming story through the Release Notes.

Since The Browser Company ships changes at such a fast rate, the Release Notes are a frequent reoccurring entry point to getting up-to-date with the Arc universe, and a constant reminder that we want them to win.

Rabbit Hole

The where: 3x high-signal resources to learn more

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