4 Lessons from Innocent Smoothies

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Here at Less Ordinary Towers, we try to get out and about every now and then. Yesterday, we braved the mean streets of West London to attend a talk by Dan Germain, Head of Creativity and Design at Innocent Smoothies.  We wanted to know how did Innocent Smoothies become a £100m brand in only 10 years – selling crushed fruit in a plastic bottle?  What on earth are they putting in there to make it so popular? What we got were four great lessons for business and life.

1. The Granny Test

This is the rule of KISS (keep it simple, stupid).  Regardless of what you are trying to do, you should be able to explain it in one sentence that your grandmother could understand.  This applies whether you’re identifying your business’ unique selling point, searching for that ideal next job, or trying to resolve an argument with a loved one.  Express yourself clearly.  Simples.

2. Whatever you’re planning, get started

When getting started on a new project, it is easy to waste a lot of time with planning, preparation, or more accurately procrastination.  As Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up”.  Get things started and you’ll pick up momentum and learn more than any research could ever tell you.  So try it – you might like it!

3. Tell stories

People love to hear stories.  Innocent started out with a group of friends who got tired of their corporate jobs.  They decided to try making the best smoothies in the world, and got a stand at a music festival to sell their first batch.  They put a huge sign on the stall asking “should we quit our day jobs and start a smoothie company?” and put “YES” and “NO” bins out.  At the end of the day, the “YES” bin was overflowing.  This is the start of the Innocent story and one you probably won’t forget.  What is the story you want to tell the world?

4. Engage the world

Innocent started out with the “Banana Phone”, a £19.99 phone shaped like a banana.  They put messages on their first products saying “if you’re bored, give us a call on the Banana Phone”.  They got 100s of calls a day.  As Dan said, normally you have to pay PR agencies a fortune to actually talk to your customers.  That ethos is still alive today – check out the Innocent website to see how they interact with their customers now.  My favourite is the AGM (A Grown-Up Meeting) where they bring 200 Innocent drinkers into the business for a day to get their views.  Innocent Tweet, Facebook, blog and just about anything you can think of.  Dan said “People like to read other people’s cr@p a the moment – so we provide some for them”.  Innocent have massive brand loyalty by interacting with their customers. Whatever you’re trying to achieve, engaging the people and world around you helps to move it forward more quickly.

So four great lessons in less than an hour for me (90 seconds for you).

What have you learned this week that you can share with the rest of our readers?  We’ll buy an Innocent Smoothie for the best 3 suggestions (usual terms and conditions apply!).  Oh and don’t forget to share this, Tweet it, Facebook it, Digg it, Linked In it, or generally tell the world.

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