A visit from Dan Germain


We’ve just had a visit from Dan Germain, Head of Creative at innocent. Since 1999, his smoothie company has developed a one-of-a-kind, though now often emulated, tone of voice. We thought he might have some interesting things to say about writing and design. We were right.

As soon as we got back to our desks, I sent the following email around the studio:

Hello, while it’s still fresh, can you please email me the one thing that really stood out for you from Dan’s talk? Just needs to be really short, off the top of your head – one or two sentences is fine.


Here is what I got back:

Write the way you think. Keep asking why. Say yes to things.

Tell a story about what you know.

You can’t workshop a tone of voice. Find a piece of work that embodies who we are and pin it up.

Brilliant beard.

There’s value in being quiet. Stories stick. Moleskine made a boring thing interesting.

For me it was about staying fresh, striving to do better than your last great idea and looking for inspiration and ideas in places that you wouldn’t necessarily immediately think of.

Aside from the masturbation analogy, probably that you shouldn’t be deciding tone of voice by committee. And also that Innocent just have a team who essentially deal with conversations with their customers/the public (rather than subdividing things into ‘Social Media’, ‘Blog’ etc)…seems such an obvious and effective way to look at things.

Pick one or two jobs that worked best (actually engaged with our audience) and use them as benchmarks. I also thought that working with outside agencies ie. they come inhouse or vice versa is a good idea.

The best, and simplest, thing for me was ‘it’s got to be interesting’ and ‘I can’t write to someone else’s tone of voice’. The soul of a banana got me thinking too

…you mean apart from the hate mail describing innocent staff as ‘marketing types who wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire’? Lots but right now I’d say: find the ‘hero’ bit/bits of work we can point at as a benchmark for all our work.

Tell a story.  Doesn’t matter if we’re six years old or sixty six, we’re hard-wired to engage with and respond to stories.

And finally…

Thanks a lot to Dan for visiting us. We’re really pleased you did.

(Find out more about Dan at www.dangermain.com)