We’re so pleased to share this first blog post in a three part series, written by our very own Ecole Chocolat graduate Brooke Willis from B Cocoa Artisan Chocolate! When Brooke told us about her background in branding and design, and her story about building a chocolate brand for her business, we asked if she would write a post to share what she learned with others who might be facing a similar situation. Brooke had so much helpful information to share that we decided to make it a 3 part series! With a few simple tools, Brooke was able to DIY most of this process, saving herself a lot of money at a time when she was building her business and every penny counted!
The First Step to Building a Chocolate Brand – Naming Your Chocolate Business
by Brooke Willis
A little over two years ago I was fresh out of Ecole Chocolat’s Professional Chocolatier Program and just getting my feet wet in the chocolate industry. My husband is in the military and we have a few years before we can settle in a permanent area. As a result, I currently work from my home kitchen and operate B Cocoa Artisan Chocolate as a mobile chocolate shop with local delivery in my city and the Dallas area. I also offer chocolate parties and workshops where I go to people’s homes or offices. In my early design process, my goal was to make B Cocoa Artisan Chocolate appear professional enough that my clients would never guess I did most of my work from home.
I thought that logo and brand design would prove the easiest part of my chocolate journey. In a past life, before kids and pursuing a passion to create a chocolate business, I was in the marketing and design industry. I had no problem branding businesses, creating logos and collateral, and everything that made a business look professional and appealing. And yet, I was stuck. Perhaps it was because I was creating an identity for my own business for the first time, and I knew that once I decided on a name, logo, and product design I was pretty much branded. Once you’ve taken that step, it’s hard to change these things without spending a lot of time and money.
I gave myself six months of downtime where I focused only on fine-tuning my chocolate skills and creating a great product before I decided to work on branding my company. Once you have a solid product, you can then create a strong visual foundation of your company. Your product and your packaging must work together. It can mean the difference between appearing as a hobby chocolatier and selling to your neighbor next door, and appearing professional enough that corporations want to gift your chocolate to their clients. I wanted my chocolate to be packaged so beautifully that a local customer would want give it as a hostess gift because they wanted to stand out from the other friend bringing cheap wine.
What’s in a name???
As Shakespeare put it, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Agree? I’m not so sure. Once you decide on a name, everything flows from there. You can’t build a client base and change your name, or you will have people confused and likely lose customers.
The first name I wanted for my company was Dulce Vida or Sweet Life in Spanish. My daughter’s name is Vida and I loved the idea of something unique. During my “downtime”, my family moved back to America from living overseas. In our new city, the salon down the street was named Spa Dulce Vida. Well, okay then, decision made! Luckily, I hadn’t become too attached. It was also during this time that I decided I loved Belgian chocolate and that most, if not all of my chocolate would be sourced using Callebaut Belgian chocolate. A Belgian chocolate focused brand with a Spanish name is not very consistent. I also decided that the best description of B Cocoa was “European style chocolate made locally with all natural ingredients.” This is my tagline and it’s what I center my company identity around.
A solid name needs to describe your chocolate brand, and a tagline can help by adding more information about who you are and what you’re about. Are your chocolates crazy-fun, elegant, all-natural, vegan, etc.? Do you only sell chocolate or do you offer other things as well? If you offer more than just chocolate or plan on it in the future, you don’t want a limiting name like, Mom’s Truffles (sorry if that is a legit shop… I just pulled it out of the air). A name needs to be flexible and lead to a simple understanding of your company. And, very important… Google. That. Name!!! If someone else already has it, no matter how much you love it and can’t imagine your life with another name… you must let it go.
If you are in the early process of creating your chocolate brand, I highly recommend watching this documentary http://burtsbuzzdoc.com/ . For me, it was a game changer in determining the direction that I wanted to go in branding my company. One night, during my “I can’t come up with a good company name” days, I decided on a whim to watch the documentary about the quirky founder of Burt’s Bees. During this documentary, his description about how he came up with his name left me forever grateful for his simple, yet brilliant approach to branding his company. His basic explanation was, “ My name’s Burt and I have a bunch of Bees…” It was so straightforward, yet so genius. Sometimes the best and most innovative ideas stem from the obvious. My name is Brooke and many of my close friends and my family call me “B”. And there it was, B Cocoa, so plainly obvious it should have slapped me in the face. I had spent months trying to be innovative and creative in developing a name. After I watched the documentary and heard Burt’s approach to his company, I sat at my computer confident to finally name my company B Cocoa Artisan Chocolate, and my logo and all design flowed from there.
More to come…
Thank you so much to Brooke for sharing the story of creating a brand identity for her chocolate business, starting with the name! Stay tuned for the next post in this series about creating a chocolate brand where Brooke talks about designing her logo!
How did you come up with the name for your chocolate business? Did your very first idea stick, or did it take a few tries? Tell us about it in the comments!