Go on, annoy your customers, it’s good for business, it’s good for the world

Go on, annoy your customers, it’s good for business, it’s good for the world

Tony’s Chocolonely goes out of its way to annoy some of its customers.

Most chocolate bars are divisible into equal parts. People like the uniformity. It is easy to break off equal parts for yourself or to ensure everyone get the same sized piece when you’re sharing a bar with friends. Some people like the fact that they know how much an individual piece of chocolate will weigh.

Yet in 2012 Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch based chocolate company, deliberately introduced their unequally divided bar.

Not surprisingly they got comments and complaints but the unequally divided bar continues. Tony’s isn’t being different just for the sake of being different, they are doing it for a reason. A reason linked to the very heart of their brand.

Tony’s is a brand with a mission. 

As their website explains they are “crazy about chocolate, serious about people – A 100% slave-free chocolate industry – that’s our goal. It’s the reason we created Tony’s Chocolonely. And it’s our mission to make other people as passionate about 100% slave-free chocolate as we are.”

Set up by Maurice Dekker, a TV producer and originally fronted by journalist Teun van de Keuken, it was the brand that arose out of their campaigning programmes. Programmes that highlighted the continuing child exploitation and even slavery in the chocolate industry in West Africa.


The first bars were part of a programme storyline with van de Keuken following the whole supply chain from bean to bar to demonstrate that a slave free chocolate bar could be made. The first batch sold out within an hour of coming onto the market so Dekker decided to start a company.

The brand name combines the Anglicised version of “Tuen” – Tony and his “lonely” search for slave free chocolate.

Another difference is their use of colour. Dekker recalls “How was I to know that red is the code for pure chocolate and blue is for milk? I was ignorant of the whole industry and red to me is a colour to raise awareness, a signal. And that’s what the first Tony’s Chocolonely’s milk chocolate bar was about. Raising the signal, the red flag” 

The unequally divided bar comes from the same sort of thinking. It is unequally divided as it represents the unequally divided chocolate industry. In fact if you look closely at the design you can see the outlines of the chocolate producing nations of West Africa – Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Tony’s aim was to make its customers stop and think about the chocolate they were eating and to remember the unequal distribution on the chocolate making supply chain.

They are still getting complaints but rather than change they are just happy that they have a valid excuse to tell their story again.

And the moral is that you can build your brand right into your products. How can your product or service tell your story for you?


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