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How Innocent Drinks used tone of voice to win customers’ hearts

13th Jul 2015
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In a little over a decade, Innocent Drinks have grown from being a start-up staffed by three Cambridge University graduates, to a multi-million pound business selling millions of smoothies and healthy food products every week. Their branding is often held up as a shining example of how to get food copywriting and marketing right, so we thought it was about time we took a closer look at the brand and how it has gathered loyal legions of fans through the tone of voice it uses in all of its online and offline marketing.

The Innocent approach to brand marketing

Perhaps one of the most important ways that Innocent have gone about creating a successful brand is that they have engaged and involved customers in their story and products from the outset. Back in 1999, when co-founders Adam Balon, Richard Reed and Jon Wright first sold their smoothies to music fans at a London festival, the trio asked customers to put their empty cups in either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ bin to determine whether they should quit their jobs to make smoothies full time. The answer was a resounding yes, and this same level of customer engagement is evident in the tone of voice used on the company’s website today.

Let’s break down one single product description to see how they do it:

“pomegranates, blueberries & acai (smoothie)

This recipe is a bit special. We've squeezed three of the world's finest superfruits into it, a combination of pomegranate, blueberry and acai.

Tastes great and much better than getting busy with a funnel and a piece of hosepipe.

  • 2 of your 5 a day in every bottle or 250ml glass
  • it gives you the goodness of 7 different types of fruit
  • great tasting”

Conversational tone

One of the most significant things about Innocent’s brand voice is that it is relatively informal and friendly.  Instead of coming across as a company, remote and disconnected from the customer’s experience, it sounds more like a friend who has just made you a smoothie and is eagerly waiting for you to try it. By starting with the line, “This recipe is a bit special”, the tone is instantly very conversational, and the brand comes across as being down to earth and not speaking down to its customers.

Healthy but tasty

The Innocent brand is based upon products which are healthy but also tasty. In the product description this is explicitly stated in the bullet points, “It gives you the goodness of 7 different types of fruit,” and “great tasting”. In this, and its other product descriptions, the brand reinforces its main USPs, and very wisely emphasises the benefits rather than reeling off features.

Specific simplicity

Innocent’s food copywriters are good at creating compelling product descriptions which are simple but clearly tell the consumer what they’re getting. The line, “we’ve squeezed three of the world’s finest superfruits into it, a combination of pomegranate, blueberry and acai,” succinctly describes exactly what is in the bottle – something that is particularly important to people buying healthy food products.

Off-beat quirkiness

The quirkiness of the brand’s food copywriting further highlights its down to earth approach, and comes across as playful and fun. “Tastes great and much better than getting busy with a funnel and a piece of hosepipe,” may not provide any additional information about the product, but it’s likely to coax a smile out of the reader and increase their feelings of good will towards the brand.

Building a relationship through consistency

Take a quick look through the Innocent website and you’ll soon see that all of their content follows this friendly, slightly off-the-wall formula. Customers know what to expect of the brand, and so they’re more likely to connect with them digitally on social media or return to the website more frequently. Consistency in colours, tone of language and message have worked for innocent and has changed perception of the how the brand feels and how it tastes. Colour has a lot of say in this as can be seen from this infographic. 

Want to replicate Innocent’s success?

Perhaps one of the most important lessons that brands should take from the success that Innocent has had is that success comes from building a unique brand voice and developing a distinct tone that you and your customers are comfortable with.

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