A Sweet Story of Brand to Follow & Learn

Imagine you are a highly refined expert in a craft that has been passed down by generations. You take that craft and you grow an incredibly successful brand that is revered as providing one of “the best” products in the industry.

Imagine that the brand is built on three things:

  1. a business name anchored to a personal brand
  2. exceptionally high quality product (or perception of)
  3. perception of “best” developed from the implications of high price, elegant storefronts and packaging, knowledgable staff and European lineage.

Sounds great right? Imagine then that you are Bernard Callebaut – famous chocolatier most recently newsworthy for entering bankruptcy and leaving his personally branded business in the hands of others. Imagine being forced to walk away from a company you built, on generations of craftsmanship, family recipes and your own passion. What would you have left? Would you carry on? See what Bernard Callebaut says about that:

On a smaller scale (hopefully) you face challenges every day that call into question the profitability and viability of your business. Every time you make a decision with your time or money, you are making a decision that affects the eventual outcome of your business. In the long-game of business, we all should have an exit strategy, and ideally it is a lucrative one. The question is, can it be for Bernard Callebaut. While his namesake business goes on without him, his sweet story is clearly far from over. And whether or not he has a lucrative outcome after all might be a story of branding.

So, how does THE Bernard Callebaut restart at all, never mind compete with a business bearing his name? 

It’s a brand thing. Even though Bernard Callebaut may not use his own name, he IS still Bernard Callebaut and the characteristics of quality, European craftsmanship and being the “best” are HIS brand qualities, not just the qualities of the chocolate confections. He will compete against his namesake company staking success on his personal brand. Ironic? Yes.

This is going to be a tough challenge, in my opinion, as the Bernard Callebaut business is so well-established that Bernard Callebaut the person will not be able to distinguish himself from it. So the only option left is to leverage the qualities Callebaut created in his first business for his new business, because his name will continue to be associated.

This is more than a name game. It is evidence that the name, storefronts, packaging, products are only the “window dressing” of the brand. It is evidence that brand strength is rooted in the experience someone has. And in this case, a person knows when they eat Callebaut chocolate, from Bernard Callebaut the business or Callebaut’s new company, the experience is delicious. Brand experience goes beyond the product into customer service, ease of access to product, understanding of what they get and why, differentiation from competitors. These are all challenges Callebaut will face. But he has a footing to launch into success immediately BECAUSE of his name and product quality, that many never will achieve.

Welcome to “Papa Chocolat”

Launched just last night (on the swell of a nicely crafted social media campaign – congrats to Kali of Front Step Communications – and that’s another story), the marketing effort here is visual re-brand (new logo, new graphics, new personality) but also much leverage! The Callebaut name relates to quality product and is leveraged from the Bernard Callebaut business, a social media swell in support of the #bernardisback launch is leveraged off the intrigue of Callebaut’s bankruptcy situation, and the timing of Christmas is leverage too.

Papa Chocolat. The name evokes images of bearded European Saint Nicolas at this time of year. So what does Papa Chocolat have that Bernard Callebaut (business) doesn’t? A soft-centred appeal much sweeter than the refined, elegance of the namesake company.

Will leveraging the Callebaut brand into a new company be enough? No. A great business model must follow. And I have heard rumblings from some who are not fans of the business man… bankruptcy in business draws out strong opinions. But success can be created with business models and good product, on the back of a good brand, and even overcome controversy.

#bernardisback. Watch this interesting brand and marketing story unfold… it is truly an opportunity to see marketing practices in action if you have the mind to learn from this lesson! In the meantime, eat chocolate! Here’s where you can do both: (Papa Chocolat is taking orders now)

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