Q&A: Dan Germain, head of creative, Innocent

Innocent’s head of creative, Dan Germain, on how the brand uses language and whether he agrees that Innocent defines the ’tone of voice’ movement. 

Innocent is regarded as one of the brands that defines the ‘tone of voice’ movement with its unique irreverent use of language

Marketing Week (MW): How important is the language you use as a brand to the overall business?

Dan Germain (DG): Extremely important. It’s an expression of what we’re like as a group of people, trying to make stuff that tastes good and does you good. We know that people remember stories more than cold facts so we’re constantly thinking of ways to keep our stories interesting.

MW: Innocent has been mentioned as a brand that defines the ‘tone of voice’ movement. Why do you think this is?

DG: All we’ve done since we launched in 1999 is tell our story our way. There was no strategy or theory behind it 14 years ago, we were just trying to make each other laugh and that’s how we try to keep it.

MW: How can brands use language to differentiate themselves from competitors?

DG: They can use it to build trust over time, that’s the ultimate aim. If you chop and change or try too hard people aren’t going to stay with you. If you find a way of speaking that feels natural and truthful you stand a decent chance of connecting with people.

MW: How do you ensure the language used in marketing communications reflects the brand identity?

DG: We have a small group of people in-house who write everything, whether you’re reading an ad, a tweet, a label or a reply to a complaint. These people know the brand and the business inside out so it means you always get the right voice.

MW: How do you ensure your tone of voice on social media is authentic and engaging?

DG: We don’t try too hard. There’s a small group of people here at Innocent who write posts and respond to tweets and messages. Their brief is to write and post stuff they think is funny and/or interesting. It can be a throwaway medium so the trick is not to try too hard because another post will be along in a minute. It just means you have to post little and often, rather than trying to blow people away with one amazing thing.

MW: Are there any challenges of ensuring brand communications are universal throughout all channels?

DG: The biggest challenge is probably finding the right people to be your voice and giving them time to ‘get it’. I think the voice of your brand needs to settle in and learn about the whole business. You can’t just read a page of brand guidelines and expect to be able to write great stuff.

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