Beauty and the Brand: Kokopelli's

A Creator's focus on aesthetics and desirability is perfect for chocolate products. What else makes a great Creator brand?


You can see from the photograph above that chocolate + creativity is a winning combination. This is just one of many types of beautiful (and delicious) chocolates made by Kokopelli’s Chocolate, an artisan chocolate brand from London.

The photograph was taken by Steph Saffer, the creator of Kokopelli's.

Kokopelli’s is a wonderful example of how the Creator archetype can be brought to life through great branding. What can we learn from them about building a strong Creator brand?

Creator brands master 5 key skills

If you’ve come across the idea of brand archetypes before, for example in Mark & Pearson’s excellent The Hero and The Outlaw, you will be familiar with the Creator as an imaginative, inventive and somewhat perfectionist character who is motivated by creating things of enduring value. Of course, brands are not just characters: to be successful in a competitive market, brands need to perform effectively and deliver products and services in a way that helps them stand out from the competition.

At opento, we’ve analysed dozens of Creator brands across industries and geographies and come to the conclusion that there is skillset that great Creator brands, like Kokopelli’s Chocolate, have mastered.

These skills are: connected storytelling, crafting with care, sensory stimulation, keeping it fresh and showing your passion

Connected storytelling

“Kokopelli” is a character from Native American and meso-American mythology, a fertility deity probably based on wandering traders. The Kokopelli’s brand does a lovely job of telling us the story of this character. From a marketing perspective, it’s not just a well-told story but a story linking the Kokopelli character to cocoa beans and to the role of chocolate in love and desire. This ‘connected’ storytelling overlaps the world of the Kokopelli chocolate brand with the rich mythological world of the meso-American Kokopelli legend and inextricably links them together. This is what good brand stories are really about: connected storytelling.  All brands need to do this but Creator brands are often particularly good at building these vivid and rich storyworlds.

Crafting with care

Typically, Creators have a need to take artistic control of what is produced. You’ve heard the stories of Steve Jobs and his demand for improving and refining Apple products to meet his stretching vision.

So you won’t be surprised to see from the product photography that Kokopelli’s chocolates are painstakingly sculpted and there is a high degree of attention to detail in making them. Kokopelli’s takes pride in quality and handcrafted details, saying “we craft fresh, exquisite chocolates in bright flavours, all made by hand”.

Sensory Stimulation

Creators love to bring ideas to life and make them interact with our senses. Few things beat the colors, smells and tastes of real food products for sensory stimulation and Creator food brands use as many senses as they can. In an online environment, visual stimulation is particularly powerful. You can see how Creator brands like Kokopelli’s often use close product shots, magnifying the product to show it in great detail.

Kokopelli’s also applies a meso-American colour palette and visual style throughout all their branding – their website, their packaging and the decorations on the surface of their products. All of this visual seduction draws us in and helps us feel closer to the brand.

Keeping it fresh

Creator brands always seem to have something new coming down the line. For more than 20 years, Apple has ensured that its customers eagerly anticipate the next great thing from the brand. It’s important for a Creator brand to be able to deliver freshness and innovation. One way to do that is to build seasonal innovation into your products and services. For example, Kokopelli’s does this by regularly featuring new products or selections for Valentine’s, Easter and other calendar events. As all of Kokopelli’s products are handmade and fresh, the additional complexity of one-off products probably only adds a little complexity and cost of production but significantly enhances the brand’s energy and freshness.

Showing your passion

Creators are typically among the biggest fans of the products they create and are not afraid to show it. Here’s a typical tweet from @Kokopellis_Choc: “Must admit I'm glad I made a little leftover ganache from these as it's a bit moreish... :)”

That’s a great brand voice for a Creator brand.

The challenge of being a Creator brand

The biggest challenge for a Creator brand is often not a branding one but about how to find a business model that enables them to manage growth.

A need for high levels of innovation based on a clear vision of how it should look and feel can limit the scope of a Creator brand to the creative individual who built the business and many Creator brands face dilemmas when they become big or mature.

There are some smart ways to handle that. For example, inspiring other people to become Creators themselves is a good move for such brands. Kokopelli’s Chocolate Workshops do this. We can all enjoy learning to be a little bit creative with chocolate – even if we never quite reach Kokopelli’s level of perfection.

So, opento’s recipe for Creator brand success has 5 ingredients: connected storytelling, crafting with care, sensory stimulation, keeping it fresh and showing your passion. We think Kokopelli’s is doing a great job of mixing all those ingredients into a beautiful Creator brand as well as tackling the challenges of a Creator business model.

It's Kokopelli's 1st birthday this month - a perfect time to check out a young Creator brand and their products. Then tell us what you think of them as a Creator brand.

Build your own Creator brand

At opento, we've put together a system of products to help you with building brands based on archetypes. To discover a positioning area for your brand, visit our brand positioning store and try one of our products.

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