Some things to know about this week’s webinar speaker.
🍓 She loves strawberry and banana smoothies
🍺 She started her career at lager brand, Tennant’s
🍌 She’s currently the CMO of iconic smoothie brand, innocent drinks
Innocent are regularly touted as one of the UK’s best marketing organisations. Many of us have, at some point or another, wanted to work at the illustrious Fruit Towers. And whilst we can’t all go and work there, we can all get an insight into what marketing life is like at innocent, thanks to this week’s Q&A with CMO Kirsty Hunter.
It was an engaging, thoughtful, and actionable session – thank you to all who tuned in!
Watch the full thing back here and get the key insights below.
🕷️ With great power comes great responsibility
At innocent, marketing is integral to how the business operates. As a result, Kirsty’s team has a wide remit that covers all things brand, portfolio, ESG, insights and product development. As Kirsty puts it – the brand is the business and the business is the brand, and she explains that whilst it is a huge benefit to have an oversight and stake in so much of how the business operates, there are unique challenges that come with everyone feeling a sense of ownership over the brand. As a famous superhero’s uncle once said, with great power comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes huge opportunity too.
🧬 Evolution not revolution
Innocent was born in 1999 when three Cambridge University graduates quit their jobs in advertising to build a fruit drink business. From the beginning, the founders and the brand had a clear vision and point of view, an enemy and a distinctive tone of voice. Kirsty explains how they are now in the middle of taking the brand strategy to the next level, but that the success of this lies in remembering they don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they need to sharpen the point.
For Kirsty, the next stage is about understanding where the brand has come from in order to work out where they need to go. They’re focusing on getting back to that original founder thinking – being single-minded about the vision and keeping it simple and relevant to tomorrow’s consumer.
🧶 You can find magic in the wooliest of places
Back in 2003, innocent started putting little hats on their smoothie bottles and giving 25p to Age UK for every behatted bottle sold. Kirsty explains how when she first came into the business, she was dubious of the wildly successful, but slightly quirky, Big Knit initiative.
It didn’t seem particularly obvious as to how it fits as part of innocent’s strategy to get good products into people in a way that helps the world, but Kirsty believes that it’s successful because it captures people’s imagination. It’s humorous, it helps people, and it cultivates a sense of community. It’s born out of the sweet spot that can be accessed when you empower people to have fun within strategic frameworks. The strategy sets the destination and creativity allows the team to bring ‘innocentness’ to the execution.
⏰ If you’re writing a creative brief in less than an hour, it’s probably no good
Innocent have an in-house Creative studio who work to bring the strategy and plans to life. Kirsty explains how the key to creating great content is to write really great creative briefs.
Here are Kirsty’s tips on how to do exactly that:
Start with a clear strategy
What’s your insight? What’s your objective? Where are you travelling from and to? What do you want your consumer to think, feel, do?
Take the time to write something useful
If you can create the full brief in an hour, it’s probably not going to be good enough.
Put it through the ‘sniff test’
Ask people who are removed from the project to give it a read. Do they understand it? Is it rubbish? When you strip it back, does it actually make sense?
Ask for feedback
Once you’ve given it over to the Creative team, ask them to be honest about how they found it. Create a feedback loop in order to get better results each time.
🌎 Progress isn’t always comfortable, but it is worth it
Being a purpose-led brand opens you up to the court of public opinion. The bigger you grow, the more risks and contexts you have to consider as part of your marketing strategy. Kirsty feels that despite the pressure, it’s important to still be present and vocal about the right issues.
Taking sustainability as an example, Kirsty explains that both the science and legislation that affect food and drink businesses are changing very quickly. Trying to establish best practices and be a progressive force is an ever-moving beast. Instead of being fearful of saying and doing the ‘wrong’ things, Kirsty believes that brands and businesses have a huge responsibility to lead by example and encourage changes in consumer behaviour.
This opens you up to criticism but it also moves the conversations forwards. For Kirsty, the key is to be open, honest, ready to listen, and to back your words up with action.
And those are your takeaways! We’ll leave you with Kirsty’s advice to her younger self –
“Everything is going to be ok, so don’t worry so much about having a fixed view on how things need to turn out. Opportunities will come that you haven’t factored in. It’s ok for your career not to be super linear. Make sure you listen, observe and learn, and get the right balance. You’ve only got one life to lead. Remember that balance. Get clear on what your priorities are and try to enjoy it.”