Be Different with Your Business


Marketing is often misunderstood, with many thinking it’s the leaflets, advertising and promotion that you do for your business. But it isn’t. Marketing is everything you do, from the product you decide to sell – whether it’s a premier product or cheap as chips product – to the way you invoice, and the very culture of your business. Because it’s all of that which affects how you act, and so how you’re perceived by your potential customers.

And I saw a brilliant example of a company that absolutely nailed this when I went down to visit Innocent’s Head Office in London this week – what a great place! If you’ve never looked at how they market themselves, do take the time. I chatted with Richard Reed, one of the co-founders, who’s a warm, fun guy, and the sense that *everything* the company does is done well permeates the walls.

Innocent actually started by going to a music festival where they took two bins, one with yes on it the other with no, and asked the question to everyone who bought their drinks, should we quit our jobs and set up in business making these full time? They were genuinely committed to going with the consensus so, at the end of the weekend when the yes bin was full, they went ahead and quit their jobs and started the company full time.

Rather than a use-by date on their products they have an “enjoy by” and they actually went through a phase of not only having the ingredients on the bottles but putting fun stuff on too, including most famously – and controversially – “two plump nuns”. That one ended up with Richard being taken to court by the trading standards, and a finding from the judge that he needed to “either remove the two plump nuns reference from the ingredients label or actually add them to the product”!

On the packaging they also offer people the chance to ring the customer service Banana Phone should they have any queries , and if you take one of the tours offered by Innocent around their head office you can actually see a real, live, physical version. Innocent’s culture and mission statements are literally written on the walls too so there’s no mistake.

Their vision statement is

make natural, delicious food and drink that helps people live well and die old

Everything innocent makes will always be 100% natural, delicious and nutritionally net-positive, so people are physically and mentally better off after they have eaten our food than before. In other words, we want to be a Trojan horse in society, getting as much fruit and vegetables into people as possible, to help us all live well and die old.

The culture is set out as

be natural

Not just our products, but being natural in how we treat each other and how we speak to the most important people – our drinkers

be entrepreneurial

innocent began as a small, entrepreneurial company, and nothing much has changed. We aren’t afraid to do things differently, and we’ve never given up on a good opportunity.

be responsible

We keep our promises, are mindful of our impact on our community and our environment, and always try to leave things a little bit better than we found them.

be commercial

We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t keep our eyes on the numbers at all times. Ultimately we want to deliver growth for us and our customers too.

be generous

This means giving honest feedback to one another, taking time to say thank you, and where we can, donating our resources or money to those who need it more than us. It’s that simple.

Talking to the staff there that evening it’s clear that they love where they work, and even admitted that they could work somewhere else for more money but just didn’t want to. And to achieve all of this starts with a simple decision to build something different. Why not be wacky? Why not have fun? It doesn’t mean you can’t build something that makes money and has a positive impact on employees and customers alike. The Innocent message? Do it and they’ll love you

Have a great weekend

By Alan Adams


As an award-winning business coach and bestselling author, Alan S Adams has helped hundreds of businesses across the UK to move from simply surviving to positively thriving. The publication of his second book Passion To Profit: 7 Steps To Building A Kick-Ass Agency and his third book, The Beautiful Business: Secrets to Sculpting Your Ultimate Clinic, sees him focus very specifically on creative agencies and aesthetic clinic sector, sharing advice and guidance with the potential to revolutionise turnover, client retention and overall growth. Alan was also recognised by Enterprise Nation as one of the UK’s Top 50 Advisors and APCTC Coach of The Year Finalist.

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