Brand Showcase: Volume 1
Here at Point 6, we love our clients and are proud of the work we do together. But that doesn’t mean we’re short sighted enough to think there isn’t a whole heap of amazing work being done outside of our hallowed halls. There are heaps of brands doing bold and brilliant things that we’ve admired for some time now, from both near and far. So, we decided to start a new blog series that celebrates them! Welcome, dear readers, to the very first edition of the Point 6 Brand Showcase! Each month we’ll shine a light on a brand we love, tell you a little bit about them, and explain why it is we hold them in such high regard.
Today is officially World Chocolate Day, so what could be more appropriate than kicking things off with a brand we’ve long respected and admired, thanks in large part to the recommendations of our wonderful Dutch clients, the brilliant Tony’s Chocolonely.
Many of you will likely already be familiar with Tony’s Chocolonely, though they are still fairly fresh faced compared with their rivals, given their stratospheric rise, both in profit and impact. For the uninitiated, let us introduce you. Tony’s Chocolonely was founded in 2005 by Teun van de Keuken, a then-journalist dedicated to shining a light on the heinous abuses taking place within the cocoa industry—most starkly, exploitative child labour practises and modern slavery.
And Teun wasn’t afraid to cause a stir to get his message across…
In 2003, prior to founding the company, Teun walked into a police station and asked to be arrested for the crime of driving child slavery. He hired a lawyer to help send him to jail and even brought four former child slaves over from West Africa to testify against him. The judge in the case refused to convict for one simple reason: All Teun had done was eat a bar of chocolate. But as Teun explained, this seemingly innocent act was more sinister than it seemed…
In West Africa, where 70 per cent of the world’s cocoa beans originate, illegal child labour and modern slavery run rampant. In Ghana and the Ivory Coast, an estimated 1.56 million children work under illegal conditions and 30,000 people are victims of modern slavery. For most of our lives, we’ve been consuming chocolate that is the product of this labour, without even knowing it. Teun decided to change that. He raised awareness, setting up Tony’s Chocolonely with one simple goal in mind: to rid the chocolate industry of modern slavery and exploitative child labour forever.
We said simple, not easy.
Tony’s ambitions are lofty, sure, but they’ve gone about their business cleverly, if not quietly, and we have the utmost respect for their mission, their dedication to their goal and the boldness of their strategy—not to mention the delicious, slavery-free chocolate they produce. Already Tony’s commands roughly a 20% share of the Dutch market and is one of the fastest-growing chocolate brands in the UK, its sales having surged 252.9% to £8.4m in 2020 alone.
Looking back now, it’s easy to see Tony’s success as a formality—how could a market ever support pro-slavery brands over one opposed? Surely conscious consumers would quickly acknowledge the moral failures at the top of the corporate chocolate ladder and amend their buying habits accordingly? Well, ask any strategist and they will tell you it’s not quite as easy as all that. If not well handled, socially conscious branding can very quickly slip into the quagmire of preaching, judgement or piety—not traits consumers receive well. What Tony’s realised early on is that if they were to succeed in raising awareness and growing as a company without sacrificing any of their ideals then they would need to find a smarter way of getting their message out.
As such, Tony’s approach has been a masterstroke in using boldness, originality and ingenuity to propel a message of social consciousness, raise global awareness and pave a path to a future void of exploitation.
Tony’s have remained righteous without clambering up the ever-fallible ivory tower by remaining true to their tagline: Crazy about chocolate, serious about people. There is levity, colour and cheek to their branding, though they never lose sight of the humanitarian endgame at their core.
The design of a Tony’s Chocolonely bar is a thing of beauty, an explosion of vibrant colour—distinctive palettes assigned to their unique and wide-ranging flavours—with towering Willy Wonka-esque lettering ensuring that Tony’s stands out on the shelf. And that’s all before you open them up.
First-time Tony’s buyers may be surprised by the initial sight of the chocolate itself. Not because it looks delicious—that’s to be expected—but because unlike your average chocolate bar, it’s not constructed into simplistic, evenly distributed segments. Rather, a Tony’s bar uses symbolism to form its shape. Unequally divided pieces are used to represent the unequally divided cocoa supply chain. This sets up a springboard of conversation in buyers as to the reason why. Again, Tony’s are taking a stance and making a message but doing it in untraditional ways.
The bar’s wrapper makes no allusions to the fact that it is an impact company first and foremost; it trusts its design and word of mouth to attract people on merit. But then, once inside, there is also a message imprinted explaining the company’s mission statement. This message, as with all of Tony’s messaging, is not done with judgement or to talk down, instead to open a conversation. Tony’s are very clear that they are not trying to put other chocolate companies out of business; they want them to change their practises and join them in the fight to make modern slavery and child exploitation a thing of the past.
So what does this have to do with Point 6?
Well, while we have no affiliation with Tony’s Chocolonely other than being long-term fans—our Dutch clients introduced us even before it was available in the UK and we would indulge ourselves during our regular business trips to the Netherlands, bringing bars back to the Point 6 studio as an in-office treat— we wish to support brands that support the world, whose ideals align with our own and who don’t compromise quality or morals in the name of profit.
We love design. We love marketing. We love brands who do these things well. More than that, though, we love brands who choose to use their power for good.
Tony’s Chocolonely started out as the little guy taking on the world. But sometimes little guys grow up to be big. They’ve of course faced scorn on their journey, but perhaps that’s just part of the deal. All throughout history, for every woman, man, organisation, or entity that tried to change the world, there has been another rolling their eyes. Given Tony’s mesmeric success, though, it would seem those eyes might just be starting to open.