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on 2 February 2007
You know when a book is so good that you have to keep putting it down and look out the window or something - just to try to contain your excitement?

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.
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on 27 April 2007
As one of those people who, like so many others, once walked into a copywriting workshop clutching an Innocent bottle in my hand as though it was an elixir of creative wonder, before reading it out to the class - I was rather excited (not to mention a smidgen envious) when I heard this book was being written.

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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on 11 August 2007
John Simmons writes with clarity and simplicity so that you almost feel as if you haven't read a business book; it was all too easy. Then again, you look back and realise you've learned much more about the business than if you'd struggled through a business report twice the length.
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.
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on 14 September 2011
innocent has taken the world by storm. fact! if anyone is thinking of starting a business, or wants some inspiration for creating or migrating to a brand identity then this should be one of the first places you look. the reason why innocent has take the world by storm is because they communicate their simplicity, taste great, and are ethical. this book is an incredibly interesting read on innocent - highly reccomended...
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on 24 February 2009
Excellent products - both smoothies and This Water. Undoubtedly sincere company and highly original approach. This book tells you all you need to know, and then more than you need. My feeling is that Innocent would have been better served by a slightly less eulogistic tone. The writer uses a style that I have often encountered from hyper-enthusiastic marketers. That makes me less likely to believe what I am reading about Innocent's approach to business than if the book had been written in more measured tones. So, not a criticism of Innocent, but a small rap on the knuckles for the author.
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on 12 December 2008
This is a truly fascinating story about an extraordinary company. The book is easy to read and understand and very difficult to put down once you have started reading. Not only does it contain many valuable information about the company, it also gives a personal insight into their business operations and the personalities within it. It can become a little repetitive from time to time but this is majorly due to John Simmon's enthusiasm and passion about Innocent!
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on 30 January 2007
As the inventor of the concept of 'tone of voice' there are few people better qualified to tell Innocent's story than John Simmons. Innocent have built their brand on language: simple, humorous, heartfelt, principled language that sets them a pole apart from so much of what appears on the supermarket shelves these days. John Simmons tells their story - from simple fruit juice stall to the UK's fastest growing food and drink company - with the same appealing directness, and by the time you reach the end it's hard not to admire them even more. This great brand story will be around for a very long time to come.
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on 22 January 2007
Innocent is a great brand - one that others should maybe try to learn from rather than copy. And this is a great book because, by way of a deceptively simple means of storytelling, John Simmons deftly reveals the clutch of secrets at the heart of Innocent's success (content underpinning style).
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on 21 August 2012
This is unlike any other business book I have read. In my opinion it's greatest strength is simply telling the story of Innocent from its inception to its grand status today, which by most accounts is a totally unique and inspiring organisation. Simmons has great access to the Founding Partners, the original Venture Capitalist, Maurice Pinto, who bankrolled the idea, Innocent's employees, wholesalers and customers.

The Western liberal market attitude, whilst delivering unprecedented economic success to many corporations and owners of capital, has also created its own shadow of corporate deceit and marketing spin. Such an environment where the rules of the game are clearly in favour of Big Business seems to promote cynicism and self servitude at the expense of community and trust. I genuinely feel that the Innocent story provides a glowing example of an alternative route for business growth which one day, just might, become the norm.

I would make one constructive criticism and that is Simmons' close access to the senior people at Innocent may have compromised his objectivity. The book struggles to find any genuine flaws or mistakes within the people or the business and that did raise my 'cynical' eye as to how balanced this story really is. Maybe his next edition can dig a little deeper, I'm sure the boys at Innocent will be grateful for the candidness and insight. All in all a great read.
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on 19 July 2015
We had an innocent project in my first year as a marketing student, this boom arrived in great condition and in good time. A great book for any marketer. It's a great read
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