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Expressing a brand in hats.

Every week Britain's favourite smoothie maker and festival organiser, Innocent, sends out a newsletter. And this Tuesday I received my weekly edition. As usual it was full of offbeat and amusing stories but it wasn't until I reached the very end, and the competition that I was completely awoken from my foggy, late afternoon stupor:

"This week's challenge - as Royal Ascot begins this week, we've decided to stick to tradition and find the best hat. It can be

as outrageous as you like, but the more innocent it is, the better."

Brilliant. Innocent have given their customers control of their brand in a whole new way. On the surface, Innocent Drinks are cute smoothie bottles with fun illustrations but their brand is so much more and so much cleverer than a 'look and feel' or a 'brand onion/pyramid'. They are defined by the people that buy their product, read their newletter and contibute.

This relates to what John Grant and Russell Davies have been saying on their blogs. Lots and lots of different ideas and thoughts that aren't owned by anyone but that contribute to an understanding of what an organisation stands for.

It's the idea that rather than being forced fed messages and beliefs the consumer or user creates their own

It’s the idea that brands are defined by their users not by their owners

It's the idea that if you are telling someone what to do they'll ignore you

It's the idea that if you let them have a response without force feeding them the message

Yes you need somewhere to start from, so it's not say that branding is dead. It's just that once you have loyal customers who hopefully like you, it's time for them to direct where you should go.