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Valuing the relationships and connections people have with your brand

“We love our consumers. Without them, we'd just have a very expensive hobby. As such, we want to know what we can do to make ourselves a better company for them. So we do everything we can to keep the dialogue going.”
— Richard Reed, Co-CEO and Brand Director, Innocent Drinks

Brands by their very definition are social; the relationship between your services and the people who use them. To be a socially empowered brand is to place people at the centre of your brand experience. It is the recognition that people’s opinions matter, and that human beings are the most valuable resource your brand has.

People talk. Talk can go further, faster and wider than ever before, with the increasing global capacity of the Internet and the integration of Social Media into our daily lives. In this hyper-connected world, we have a choice; to be the subject of the conversation or the facilitator of the conversation. When people have a strong opinion and feel they aren’t being listened to, it can create a volatile reaction – causing irreparable damage to your brand. But when you become the facilitator of the conversation – when people know their voices are being heard, valued, and acted upon – that critique can be turned into a constructive and positive contribution, and in turn, convert critics into brand ambassadors.

Innocent Drinks famously started by selling fruit smoothies at a Jazz festival. They posed the question to people; ‘Should we give up our jobs to make these smoothies?’ Once people had finished their drinks, they were asked to place their empty bottles into one of two bins; one bin for YES, another bin for NO. The YES bin overwhelmingly won, and Innocent never looked back.

Innocent are a brand that take social empowerment seriously. They are not afraid to ask people’s opinions, and people are not afraid to give them. This philosophy – that the views of people matter – is one of the central reasons why Innocent isn’t just another drinks company, but one loved by its consumers.

Becoming the facilitator of the conversation may seem like a scary proposition. We may hear something we didn’t anticipate, or we may not like what we hear. But if we are really afraid of what people think of us, then maybe we have more serious problems than we’d like to admit.