Richard Reed (Innocent Smoothies)

“Should we pack in our jobs and turn this into a business?”

Fondly known of as the Innocent Smoothies’ guy, Richard Reed is one the youngest and most successful entrepreneurs in Britain. Winning various awards and accolades, his brand of natural and organic smoothies and juices along with the other branches of the business including soups and salads has made Innocent one of the most famous and recognisable brands in the UK.

Although it has not always been so “smooth-going” for Mr Reed who started with a team of three of his friends from university, who set out to imprint their name firmly in the mind of the consumer.

When thinking of Innocent as a brand, the first thing that we think of is the fact that it is so simple, yet effective. This comes from the quirky sense of humour that Reed has and at the same time his edgy style that he developed in his industry and marketing and advertising in his early career. Like most other successful businesses, he realised that the soul of the sales was in the brand.

In the summer of one year, they made their way to a local music festival and set up a mobile stall to sell the smoothies to festival goers and see whether people actually like their stuff. This sounds like a standard thing to do, right? Wrong.

In addition, they put a bin either side of their stall, one saying the word “yes” and the other “no”. With this they put a question on every smoothie that they sold, which read “Should we pack in our jobs and turn this into a business?” This meant that those people who liked agreed would put it in the “yes” bin and those that didn’t would put it in the “no” bin. Reed later identified this as the turning point in his career and his life, as he put the decision of where the business was going solely on the choice of the consumer.

After the end of the day, the three of them emptied each bin to see which one was the fuller and found that the “yes” bin was overflowing with empty cups. From then on each of them decided that they were in, subsequently Innocent was born and the rest is history!

The lesson that we can learn from this and Reed’s attitude in general is that you have to cater to the needs of the consumer and let them push you in the direction that you need to go in instead of the other way around. Also we can see that simplicity is sometimes golden, as a quite basic brand identity has almost become a cult obsession being put on a par with Apple and its advertising.

The most important thing we learn is to take risks in business and realise that we are never truly tested unless we jump in the deep end with both feet – we might sink, we might swim…but we never know until we try!

We Do Ideas…Do You?


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