One of my favourite brands is Innocent Smoothies. When I need some lighthearted relief, I take a look at their twitter account and never fails to disappoint. I often talk about the Innocent brand during my brand training workshops. Together we discuss the importance of purpose, values, personality, and wackaging. If you’ve not heard of wackaging before, the term became synonymous with Innocent as they were one of the first brands to successfully use packaging to make people smile. Today, nobody bats an eyelid if your toilet paper or mayonnaise brand of choice tries to catch your attention with a joke or innuendo.
If you don’t know much about the Innocent brand story, I highly recommend reading ‘A Book About Innocent: Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned.’ It tells the story of three friends, Adam, Richard, and Jon, who wanted to make natural healthy smoothies and make the world a better place. The book charts their trials and tribulations as they set about establishing Innocent. Just over 20 years ago, the friends were described as a ‘dreadful investment opportunity.’ Yet despite several challenges, they proved everyone wrong. In 2018 Innocent reported a turnover of almost £400m and proudly announced that they delivered more than 1billion portions of fruit and vegetables to drinkers.
When I talk about brands wanting to make the world a better place, I’m often met with discerning apprehension and cynicism. Many believe that brands only ‘do good’ so that they can humblebrag about it afterward for PR purposes. Call me an optimist, but I believe that this isn’t the case for all brands. Conscious consumerism means that a brands promise has never been more critical. In the Innocent brand story, they explain:
“If you want a marketing strategy to establish or sex-up a brand, start by working out your brand promise. It should be derived from a combination of what your brand cares about and can deliver, and takes into account what your target consumers actually want and what the competition is not offering. As such, it should be simple, motivating, distinctive, and true.”
Innocent’s brand promise is – Taste Good. Does Good. Simple and true as they make tasty, healthy products which are sourced sustainably, and they donate 10% of their profits to charity. Last year they became a B Corp, which means that they’ve joined a group of like-minded brands that believe in balancing purpose and profit.
Recent examples of Innocent putting purpose over product include:
- Giving Age UK £200k to help make sure older people don’t go through the lockdown alone
- Sending out 3500 free knitting packs to craft fans for they can help with their Big Knit campaign (which has already raised over £2.5m for Age UK)
- Giving away over 370,000 drinks across four countries
- Donating £1m to charities around the world that are tackling the crisis
- Sending out free smoothies to thousands of families who get free school meals
- Sending 23k extra veg seed packets, through their Big Grow campaign, to help kids stay busy
- Setting up a pen pal service, where people can write a letter online and they’ll print and send it to older people in their lives for free
I’m surprised that they don’t shout about their philanthropic work more. They’re obviously too busy making people laugh on social media. Below is one of my favourite tweets:
innocent super smoothies: The Final Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-Rebrand
More vitamins than you can shake a stick at.
More label redesigns than we know what to do with.
And just three months later than we originally planned.
Please don’t tell our boss. pic.twitter.com/V5ZJ0Twuxs
— innocent drinks (@innocent) June 29, 2020
Speaking of social media, I wanted to learn more about Innocents social media strategy. With such whimsical content, you have to wonder if they have a strategy at all. As a Brand Manager, reaching out to your favourite brands is scary. What if they’re mean or don’t reply? Luckily I had nothing to worry about. When Innocent replied, they were helpful, personable and funny. They even shared some of their thoughts and tips on how they work as a social media team:
With our social, we want people to love our brand, and maybe buy some drinks to do themselves good while they’re at it – in that order. The way we see it, people don’t go on social media to look at adverts. They want to see dogs, photos of brunch, keep up with celebrities, etc. We try and ask ourselves “Why would someone be interested in this post? What we can we bring to social? How can we compete with dogs?” We try and make things entertaining, because that’s what we can offer, but trying to inspire or inform are equally good ways to go about things.
Less is more.
We don’t post on every channel every day. One good post will perform better than several average posts combined. We throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks, but we still think it’s better to put our time into one piece of quality rather than a quantity.
Rubbish delivered at the speed of light is still rubbish.
We know those clever algorithms could let us target all the Steves in Stevenage and all the Petes in Peterborough, but if what we’re showing them is rubbish, it doesn’t really matter how accurately we target Steve and Pete. Making great stuff always comes first, reaching people comes later.
Reply to people.
We reply to as many people as we can. If someone takes the time to get in touch with us, it’s the least we can do. We don’t want our replies to feel generic or corporate, so we write the way we talk, and try to make them as personal and relevant as possible.