Innocent: The Inside Story of Innocent Told from the Outside Paperback – 15 Aug 2011
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About the Author
The author is a brands expert who was previously a director at Interbrand, the world s largest brands consultancy. He is the author of several books, including My Sister s a Barista, Dark Angels, The Invisible Grail, and We, Me, Them & It (all published by Marshall Cavendish).
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Top customer reviews
I've read an unhealthy amount about branding, writing, marketing and management -and this relatively short (charmingly written) book, in one single story about one (amazing) company, has taught me more about branding, writing and how those two things can define and direct a business than all the rest put together.
John Simmons shows you that your brand and how you articulate your brand are one and the same thing. He shows you that writing can permeate every part and every stage of an organisation, so that everyone in your business (your colleagues, your customers, your suppliers, your investors, the media - everyone) will know what you do and who you are - and like you all the more for it.
Like his other books (We, Me, Them & It, The Invisible Grail, Dark Angels etc), this is about bringing honesty and humanity to work through your actions and through your words. It's about talking to and thinking about people in a way that not only genuinely reflects who you are, but helps shape and define who you are at the same time. The lesson I took away was this: Get the big picture through your brand, then really do sweat the details - from the way you write your company rule books (yes, Innocent do have them), to the way you answer the phone.
If you already know Innocent's 'tone of voice' (the words they use and the way they use them), you might imagine that while all this might work when you're writing a list of ingredients on the side of a smoothie, when you're dealing with things like supply chain logistics or complex marketing strategy, it all ends up sounding like a bunch of ill-thought-out, homespun truisms. Don't you believe it, there's more clarity, focus, direction and simplicity resulting from the approach written about in this book than I've ever seen before.
If you want to improve your writing, read it. If you want to run a better business, read it. If you want to see that the world of marketing, branding and consultancy (for all its evils) has at least produced the three innocent founders and the author of this book, read it.
A great, great brand story - I genuinely couldn't more highly recommend it.
But now innocent have launched a break-away brand, This Water, and the Fruitstock Festival has turned into the Village Fair; we need an update.
What interests me is - according to John's description of their meticulous and lengthy planning process - that innocent must have been plotting their new developments while they were telling John about their recent history. These innocent chaps are wise indeed.
That's the problem with describing a moving target and the only reason I give the book a four and not a five. I need to know the thinking behind the This Water brand, why they moved on from Fruitstock. Bring out the update and I'll give it a 4.5.
But as a history of the brand's first few years, I'd recommend this for all your MBA case studies. Reading it as probably as close as you'll get to the interviewing the founders and Dan4.
Happily, it's a really entertaining read, which I devoured in only a few sittings. What's so nice is the way Simmons' own enthusiasm for the brand shines through, as he leads us on a guided tour through Fruit Towers and the story of Innocent; from its humble beginnings in the much-fabled land of `yes' and `no' bins, through to its humbler still existence today as Britain's fastest growing food and drinks company. From the dancing grass vans and the banana phone, to the fruitstock festival, and to the almost bloody-minded optimism which bounces through Innocent's whole approach to things... it's all there. And like the smoothies themselves, this book leaves you feeling uplifted and charged, fresh with the knowledge that simple goodness, optimism and honesty really can triumph above cynicism.
I can't remember the last time I read a non-fiction book so quickly, or came across one so `unputdownable'. Maybe it's partly because the content was so interesting, but it's also got to be down to the engaging openness of the author's style. As in all his other books, he writes with a simple charm that isn't a million miles away from the natural, funny tone running through Innocent's own voice.
As well as a comprehensive history of the brand and its people, there are many other lovely treats inside. There's a gallery of the best and most read-aloud labels over the years. There are the Innocent company values, and the seven great pillars of wisdom which define what they're all about. Hell, there's even a wee-ometer. But best of all, there are two small but very important words to take away with you: Dan Germain's simple philosophy of `think little'. Because in the end what matters most to Innocent, and what makes them stand out from the masses, are the little details*.
So anyway, to sum up... If you've ever:
a) laughed your head off while looking at the side of an Innocent
bottle (or the underside for that matter);
b) wondered just how Innocent have done what they've done; or
c) you'd just like to know what on earth a `chatwich' is...
...then chances are you'll think this book well worth its cover price (which is after all only the cost of approximately 3 and a half thickies)
* That, and knowing that their mums are happy.
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