Creating a chocolate revolution Down Under
After 17 years in business, Australian chocolatier Koko Black had entered a strained period to the point that the business went into administration. In 2016 Australian entrepreneur Simon Crowe purchased the company and began the process of revitalising it – inviting Round to rethink Koko Black’s brand.
From derivative European style to a contemporary Australian brand
To begin, we needed to take a business that was deeply entrenched in the vernacular of European history and shift it to a contemporary Australian brand. What better way for Koko Black to build its credentials as a distinctively local chocolate brand than by owning our own seasons?
Traditions and celebrations for Easter and Christmas – the highest sales periods for a chocolate brand – tend to be rooted in culture from the Northern Hemisphere. Instead of replicating these motifs for Koko Black, we developed uniquely Australian celebrations that were more authentically ownable.
Easter, for example, is a cosy Autumnal vision incorporating native Australian animals burrowing down alongside more traditional bunnies. By celebrating these nuances of place, we gave audiences something to connect with while global visitors got to experience a unique slice of Australian culture.
From a limited luxury offering to something premium for everyone
Originally, Koko Black's core business focus was on a limited product range of 24 luxury pralines, which didn’t allow many opportunities for customers to make regular, repeat purchases. To make the brand more accessible, we worked with Koko Black to expand the product range to over 160 chocolate products – creating something for everyone on more occasions.
To distinguish Koko Black and the handcrafted care that goes into all of its products, we designed a range of premium packaging solutions with a distinctive and ownable identity. We developed graphic explorations of the letters K and O alongside complementary graphics to create a series of distinct house codes.
A key element of the design was creating a consistent packaging system with enough flexibility for the entire product spectrum, while ensuring it could extend across an ever-growing range. Now, whether you’re looking at any products – from premium, handcrafted pralines to the accessibility of grab-and-go bites – you know you’re experiencing Koko Black.
From narrow-focused traditional products to creating a mould-breaking chocolate revolution
Part of Koko Black’s shift to a contemporary brand, and something that sets the brand apart, is its emphasis on innovation and experimentation. A highlight of this mindset is developing unexpected collaborations with other artisans who are challenging fields of their own – working together to create truly unique chocolate experiences.
In 2022, we developed and designed Attica x Koko Black – Stories in Chocolate, the latest Koko collaboration. An indulgent 10-course chocolate degustation and limited-edition boxed product range, the project presented the vision of Ben Shewry, renowned head chef of Attica, through the medium of Koko’s masterfully crafted chocolates.
Developing the concept, theme, packaging, art direction and content executions for the collaboration, our team weaved together the two brands, uplifting both artisans and creating a landmark culinary collaboration.
From a food and beverage focus to a gifting brand
Limited edition collaborations and product releases that make exceptional gifts is one part of the overarching strategy in turning around Koko Black’s business. During our journey with the brand, we’ve helped it transition from a food and beverage focus to a gifting brand.
Making Koko a gifting destination has increased its relevance for customers across a broader range of occasions – from major holidays to any personal moment, such as birthdays, thank-you gifts and beyond. Establishing itself as a brand full of gifting solutions has created a cohort of regular repeat customers who look to Koko for gifts for multiple loved ones and on multiple occasions.
This shift helped increase Koko Black’s brand awareness by 5% over the three years between 2019–2022, setting the brand up for a blockbuster 2022 Christmas sales period. During the twelve weeks leading up to Christmas, sales of seasonal products increased by 51% compared to the past year. The increased attention over the Christmas period also helped customers discover Koko’s regular product range, where a 37% increase in total business was reported too.
From a business in administration to double-digit sales growth year on year
Koko’s contemporary vision to be a premium but inclusive and accessible brand, crafting delicious and wonderful chocolate experiences for all has transformed the business’s bottom line – increasing sales across both in-store and online platforms.