Coca-Cola bought its first 18% stake in Innocent in 2009. Four years later, in 2013, the soft drinks giant upped its ownership of the smoothie brand to 90%. Why was Coke so keen to spend hundreds of millions buying Innocent? We have a pretty good idea.
In February 2013, David Boland posted a comment on a Marketing Week article that pretty much sums up what’s so great about Innocent: “Their [Innocent's] fresh approach to marketing has been an inspiration and as a consumer of their products I must admit that I enjoy reading the packaging as much as I do drinking the contents. Not sure how many other food or drink products I could say that about!”
Taking a closer look at Innocent’s values and marketing strategy, it’s clear as day as to why it’s made the cut as a Brave Brand. Please allow us to introduce the 4 C’s (how convenient!) that separate Innocent from the rest.
Innocent thrives off exuberant and playfully cheeky copy. Its friendly yet down-to-earth TOV is distinguishable from a mile off and showcases the brand’s incredible personality with powerful impact. In fact, it’s so good that consumers actively look forward to it, happily enjoying it as they devour the pack’s contents.
What started as 3 university pals asking festival goers to vote on whether or not they should try and make a real go of their smoothie brand has transformed into a wholly consumer-centric business model. Perhaps the best illustration of this is Innocent’s AGM (A Grown-up Meeting), an annual meeting for its brand loyalists. At the event, which takes place at the brands HQ Fruit Towers, attending customers can try new flavours in the pipeline, ask questions and learn more about the business in general. Though the AGM only happens once a year, Innocent uses its packaging to invite its customers to pop in or call its banana phone anytime.
Things like the AGM prove the strength of Innocent’s brand and its confidence in itself. This open and frank approach filters right through to its advertising and packaging. It once said “Our very first bottles looked…a little bit ugly if we’re being honest.”
Innocent’s new positioning statement is ‘tastes good, does good’. The ‘does good’ part doesn’t just refer to the obvious health benefits that come with natural fruit juice and smoothies but Innocent’s charitable endeavour to give 10% of its profits to charity. Since 2004, the brand has donated a massive £5.4 million to good causes.
In its own words, “It’s all about leaving things a little bit better than we find them – one of our core philosophies, and one that we try to apply to everything we do.”
Much of Innocent’s giving goes to the Innocent Foundation, a UK-registered charity that provides grants to non-governmental organisations. Causes supported by the foundation include sending unwanted drinks to UK food re-distribution charity FanShare, providing poor families in Africa with the skills they need to escape poverty through Send a Cow, and working with the Clinton Foundation in poverty-stricken Malawi.
The list of Innocent’s good deeds goes on and on. You can find out about more of them here.
Commitment to Innovation
All right, we’re pushing the 4 C’s thing a bit here. But the video below demonstrates Innocent’s strong commitment to their brand’s evolution through innovation. Innocent adheres to 3 main principles as they push their brand to create deeper connections with its consumers and stay relevant in the future.
1. Steal with pride – have no shame in taking the best of everything to create a better solution for the market.
2. Endurance for the last 10% – when it comes to creating change, the last piece is always the hardest and most frustrating. Investing the time to make this work will make your innovations worthwhile.
3. Differentiate all the way around – capitalise on every opportunity to be different, even if you don’t think your consumers will notice. Carving out your own space in the category and market with an ownable structure, copywriting, strategy, and values will afford you a category of your own.
Why is Innocent brave?
Innocent successfully juggles a multitude of brand values. A friendly and relatable personality upheld through copy and consumer engagement activities helps Innocent maintain a transparent and honest relationship with customers as well as generating huge brand loyalty. As a brand, it consistently strives towards innovation and self-improvement, whilst remaining confident in the work it’s already doing. And Innocent is undeniably making the world a better place, both in terms of its consumers’ health and charitable works around the world. We think Innocent is just great.