Innocent: A personal approach
This article originally appeared in the Social Brands 100.
Panel Score: 99
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Social Brand Score: 238
Since its launch a little over a decade ago, Innocent has stood out for its innovative and entertaining approach to communications. Although we are now used to having our packaging ‘talk’ to us, back when Innocent’s bottles first appeared on supermarket shelves covered in distinctive illustrations and irreverent copy – a by-product of having no budget for a traditional advertising campaign at the time – it was radical.
Significantly, the bananaphone number, Innocent’s customer helpline, has always been included on labels, with an open invitation to get in touch with ‘Fruit Towers’. “We’ve always wanted to build actual relationships with our drinkers,” says Innocent’s Joe McEwan. “It started with talking to people on our packaging, inviting them to call the bananaphone, meeting them at events we put on, and so on. It naturally extended into digital and then social media as those channels evolved.”
So from the beginning Innocent’s values have been rooted in what is now recognised as good social behaviour, taking a human approach to managing the brand, creating value for, and listening and responding to people. Maintaining this approach in the face of significant growth, inevitable changes to the team line-up, and a rapidly evolving communications landscape however, is no mean task. According to McEwan, key to Innocent’s success has been a consistent tone of voice – one that’s natural, honest, and engaging – making social activity feel like a natural extension of the company’s personality.
The Innocent approach to social has historically been quite organic, changing as the team experiments with new ideas and types of content. Over the last year in particular, there’s been recognition internally that social should be integrated across the business more formally, “striking a balance between a healthy degree of spontaneity and a more strategic approach,” says McEwan. One result has been closer collaboration with the in-house creative department. Following a session ahead of St George’s Day, the team created and shared ‘An Innocent Guide to Slaying a Dragon’. Success hinges on having a Brazil nut to hand, in case you’re wondering.
As they continue to experiment with the potential of emerging platforms, the Community Team is keeping an eye on how to best develop each one’s own look and feel while maintaining that all-important consistency. For McEwan, a dedicated in-house team is essential to Innocent’s future success to ensure the business keeps learning and develops the deepest possible relationship with its communities.
In an ever-changing social landscape, Innocent maintains a flexible and creative approach underpinned by a clear understanding of the spirit of the brand, passion for the product, and a desire to engage with people wherever they may be.