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Chris Brown
innocent advice

4 things anyone can learn from the brains behind these little bottles

We talked to Innocent’s marketing guru about creating a great brand.

FOR A COMPANY renowned for its marketing nous – from the signature logo to the cutesy spiels on labels – the brains behind Innocent Drinks’ branding has some remarkably old-fashioned advice.

Stop worrying so much about Twitter or your marketing and get your product right if you want to make it as a business.

Dan Germain, who has been in charge of building Innocent’s brand since it started in 1999 and was last year named one of the UK’s top designers, dropped into TheJournal.ie’s offices last week.

And besides telling us about being part of a company that had gone from selling smoothies at a music festival to being taken over by drinks giant Coca-Cola, he also had some useful tips for up-and-coming food and drink businesses. Or any entrepreneurs, really.

Innocent1 Innocent's head of brand and creative Dan Germain mugs for the camera TheJournal.ie TheJournal.ie

These are the four key lessons he offered for anyone setting out to create a winning brand:

1. Forget packaging, get the product right

“If the first time somebody tries what you’ve made … and it sucks, then you’ve lost that moment forever.

Sometimes people get caught up in ‘is my logo right?’ and ‘is the copy on the back of the label right?’ … you need to have the confidence to hold your product in your hand and give it to someone and say that tastes flipping amazing.”

2. Let people try before they buy

Just get people to taste it, because you can rationally analyse cost vs benefit vs what it’s going to do for me, actually if you just get someone to taste something or try something – and it goes for quite a lot of products – ultimately the brain shortcuts to ‘yes’.”

3. ‘Big stick’ advertising is dying

“There are no secrets in the world, everyone’s going to find out (online) about how you act as a business with regard to the wider community and society. They’re going to get an idea of whether your product works.

Inevitably that will continue and the ability to beat people on the head with a big stick to force them to go to the supermarket, that will diminish.”

Innocent Innocent.ie Innocent.ie

4. No substitute for ‘feet on the streets’

“If you’ve got a product that you’re really happy with and you’re sitting in the office thinking about it, then you’re screwing up.

You’ve got to be out there embarrassing yourself with a tray of it, with a stall at a farmer’s market, with a little van or a bike riding around with it strapped to your head – however you can show people it exists. Great, get on Twitter, start saying some stuff about how great your product is but seeing and feeling is believing.”

Here’s the extended video in which Germain explains how Innocent’s founders got the company off the ground – and what tips he would offer to others starting a business today:

Video TheJournal.ie / YouTube

READ: An Irish marketing agency has just been singled out as one of the world’s best >

READ: Why this man is building a million euro centre for homegrown food in Waterford >

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