The Organicism of Small Business Branding

The Organicism of Small Business Branding

The Organicism of Small Business Branding

By John Jantsch

sweetriot logoOrganicism is a philosophical orientation that asserts that reality is best understood as an organic whole. So, now you know I know how to use Wikipedia, but the word Organicism has such a true ring to it for the small business. Small businesses do have brands, can take full advantage of branding, but not like BigCo. A big brand can create the impact it’s after with slick ads, spokesperson celebrities and decals on NASCAR winners.

A small businesses brand is almost always experienced more organically through stories, surprises, flourishes, people and processes. It’s much more than a logo, product package, colors, and tagline. Everything the small business does is a part of who they are and that’s about as close to defining branding for the small business and you’ll get. In fact, my definition for small business branding is: the act of becoming more knowable, likable, and trustable.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Sarah Endline, CEO and founder of Sweetriot, a New York based maker of dark chocolate. Sweetriot had created a product that is growing in popularity and a brand that is expressed in every aspect of the business. Their mission, positioning, and story set the table for a unique brand, but it’s how they carry that brand message intentionally through other supporting elements that ignites the entire brand expression.

Sweetriot’s stated mission is: To create a more just and celebrated multicultural world for our next generation. Sounds ambitious enough, but it’s how it manifests in seemingly every aspect of the business that makes people take notice and get connected.

Their product is all natural and healthy, but so is their business. “We create sweet experiences for our customers, partners and employees, says Endline when asked to define what gets people talking about Sweetriot.”

Sweetriot has positioned chocolate as a health food and this innovative differentiation allows you to get engaged without the need to page through reams of scientific proof of the benefits.

While Endline is Sweetriot’s CEO, she’s still their top salesperson as well, and states that she has a 100% close rate with new retailers when the focus of the sales presentation is as much about her company’s story and mission as it is about the products.

And what about the other flourishes?

The name – Sarah tells me she agonized over finding something that felt sweet (ok, duh), but also felt full of the energy that she and her team planned to bring to this space – A sweetriot is a joyful celebration of culture, diversity, and understanding — it is the opposite of a civil riot, which is dangerous, violent, and oppressing.

The logo – this one is subtle and in fact, I missed it for a while. Sweetriot’s logo is a thumbprint (it’s actually Sarah’s sister’s thumb) with a globe motif layered over the thumb.

The product – sweetriot’s primary product is an all natural, anti-oxidant-rich, dairy-free, kosher, gluten-free dark chocolate cocoa nibs – except of course, they’re called “peaces” – I mean, what else would you call them, right?

sweetriot tinsThe package – Core products are shipped in stylish tins adorned with artwork from up and coming artists. In addition to the chocolate, the tins contain a fortune. Each quarter sweetriot customers are offered the opportunity to help choose the next new featured artist. The tins are recyclable and sweetriot produces ideas on ways to reuse the tins as well.

The process – Since cacao is generally only found in Latin American, Africa, Asia, most is imported away to North America and the U.S. sweetriot of course pursued fair trade practices immediately, but wanted to take it a step beyond fair trade to create opportunities not only farmers and fair bean pricing but also for the production of product in the country of origin. There is a new term coming about called equitrade and sweetriot uses these principles as further differentiation. Packaging and marketing materials contain stories about the farmers and suppliers in Latin America.

The people – sweetriot’s staff members are called rioters and her website includes a host of volunteer rioters and her rioting gurus – a group of volunteer advisors. First day of training is called Riotation. My guess is that if you sat in on a staff meeting there would be plenty of brand planned attributes, processes and sweet training rituals.

Moral of the story – everything counts and the little things are how you deliver on the one really big thing – your brand.

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