Deliverables: A Branding & Marketing Blog

A brand that gets it right: Innocent Drinks

January 17, 2013 | by Ralph Allora

A brand we love is Innocent Drinks, makers of organic, natural juices, smoothies, and fruit and vegetable snacks. The connection that Innocent has with its audience is as authentic as it gets, and should serve as an inspiration for any brand that hopes to build loyal, lasting customer relationships.

A disclaimer: We haven’t yet actually tried Innocent’s products, as the brand is not available in the United States. (Innocent, what are you waiting for?) So we can’t vouch for how tasty, or fresh, or healthy it is. But the fact that we’re looking forward to sampling it in future travels — the company is based in the UK and its products are available throughout Europe and Australia — is proof enough of its branding prowess.

(Speaking of Australia, go to Innocent’s home page, scroll down to the country flags, click on the Australian flag, and watch what happens. It’s part of the reason we love Innocent.)

Last year the UK social media monitoring firm Brandwatch ranked Innocent as the top-rated social brand, based on various performance measures. You don’t need to look at analytics, however, to see why so many people can’t get enough of it. Let us count the ways.

More than a product, an emotional feeling

Innocent has transcended its product category to represent something that just about everyone can relate to: good, clean fun. This month, for example, its website kicks off with a splash page that helps people get over the winter blahs by doing things like staring into the Dot of Positivity, striving towards “buns of steel,” or clicking on hidden boxes to uncover funny visuals. The idea: Whether or not you actually consume the product, merely interacting with the brand makes you feel better.

An open-door policy

To put it in a Zen-like way, Innocent is at one with its audience. In other words, its customers are the brand; the brand is its customers. In fact, the company literally opens its doors to its fans on a regular basis, so together they can celebrate the natural, organic goodness of it all. Each year Innocent holds what it calls an AGM (A Grown-up Meeting), where the brand’s most enthusiastic customers visit Innocent HQ, aka Fruit Towers, to ask questions, learn more about the business, make and taste new products in the kitchen, and “eat a lot of cake.” This, folks, is how you create brand evangelists.

A memorable personality

Innocent’s brand voice is marked by an amusing level of frankness (“Our very first bottles looked…a little bit ugly if we’re being honest.”) and geniality (“If you don’t think our orange juice tastes as fresh as can be, we’ll come round to your house and squeeze some for you. Just send us your front door key.”). And it’s accessible to a broad range of consumers, including the youngest ones — witness its playful, entertaining site for kids. This welcoming personality, combined with a simple, clean visual aesthetic, makes for a memorable brand experience.

Communicating shared values

Innocent knows that consumers who care enough to purchase natural, organic products most likely share a certain set of social values. That’s why, throughout Innocent’s business practices and communications efforts, you’ll find meaningful expressions of the brand’s own social responsibility. Through its foundation, for example, the company gives 10 percent of its annual profits to sustainable farming efforts. The brand was the first, in 2007, to make its bottles from 100 percent recycled plastic. And because the brand is refreshingly honest, it readily admits that its sustainability efforts are an ongoing journey: “We sure aren’t perfect but we’re trying to do the right thing.”

Clearly, they’re doing a lot of things right.

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