Candy & Snacks

The Joy of Chocolate

Jan 06, 2014

A timeless guide to growing a chocolate brand

 How has Cocopotamus gone from unknown "mom & pop" to celebrity-endorsed brand name in just four years? By forgetting what they learned from business school marketing classes and the traditional chocolatier business model. Instead, Cocopotamus by NYDC Chocolate CEO Max Sinclair, whose MBA was a good lesson in what not to do with his own business, decided to base the brand on a single, laser-focused emotion; use technology to automate the back-end administration. The result is a lean, mean chocolate-making and branding machine.

"Like a typical start-up, we have a very limited budget but a gargantuan goal," explainsSinclair. "We think of new ways of marketing a brand, unlike what business schools typically teach. We do zero advertising, use no food brokers, and take a radical approach to staffing." Most people would think that the odds were stacked against such a company, especially when chocolatiers are a dime a dozen in the US and Canada. And yet, this "Mom and Pop" with no shop - they prefer to build the brand with just a commercial chocolate kitchen — have succeeded in record time. 
"We focus on creating a single emotion to be associated with our brand: joy," Sinclair explains. "Chocolate is just the vehicle we use to deliver the message." 
Everything the brand communicates starts with joy, from the naming of product flavor with fun names like Holy Cow, Miss Congeniality, and The Vegan Mary, to the use of colors and the packaging design. "Our goal is to bring a smile. When we can do that successfully, we have a brand," Sinclair explains. "Of course, your product has to taste great too, or there's no repeat business."
Starting from nothing just four short years ago, Sinclair and his wife, Master Chocolatier Ally Sinclair, have built Cocopotamus into a North American brand. Smart use of technology, such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and radical moves like no retail store, refusing to use sales reps, and never advertising set Cocopotamus apart. 
The company produces hundreds of thousands of chocolate truffles per year — by hand! — with a competent crew of seven part timers, all under 22 years old. "We also speak with each of our retailers personally," Sinclair says. "They know when they call, we will answer. A lot of chocolatiers are technically competent in the production aspect of making chocolate and but forgot about the personal touch with customers. We appreciate each retailer, from the smallest to our largest customer, Whole Foods Market."
Cocopotamus truffles are all natural, handmade and always gluten-free. The brand creates 32 flavors of dark chocolate truffles. For more information, visit Cocopotamus by NYDC Chocolate.