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The Dark Chocolate Art of Naming

Posted by: Jennifer Vasilache on February 29, 2012

“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… Chocolate…” — Homer Simpson

This year, NYC’s The City Bakery celebrates the 20th year of its month-long Hot Chocolate Festival. Two decades of hot-chocolate-perfecting expertise? Tempting. But take a look at the list of the festival‘s flavor names, and admit you’re powerless to resist The City Bakery’s chocolatey charms.

Every day for the past 28 days, we here at Interbrand in NYC have been lured through their front doors by names like Darkest Dark, Vietnamese Cinnamon, and Sunken Treasure. What is it about these flavor names that make them sing like a siren song?

Let’s take a closer look to decipher the hidden meanings and identify the secrets that make these flavors so enticing.

  • Milk Chocolate, Darkest Dark

    Two descriptive names that celebrate the two ruling chocolate varieties. They speak to purists—the true and unapologetic chocoholics—and to those whose chocolate craving is only satisfied by simplicity.

    Here the beauty exists in the relationship between the form (simple and descriptive names) and the content (traditional flavors). We see simplicity, authenticity, genuineness—with a pinch of conservatism—answering consumers’ practical need for traditional chocolate.

  • Espresso, Banana Peel, Caramel, Lemon, Ginger, Earl Grey Tea, Beer, Chili Pepper

    Another batch of descriptive names, but these are anything but traditional. Whether they sound like a classic combo (Espresso) or a dynamic duo (Chili Pepper), the spotlight is now really on the flavor; chocolate’s role here is the friendly, reliable mate. These simple names promise an epicurean experience—combining the functional (highlighting the ingredient) and the emotional (permission to try a new flavor in the context of a familiar one) for maximum impact.

  • Tropical, Bourbon, Vietnamese Cinnamon, Chinese Cinnamon

    The contrast between the concrete descriptor (hot chocolate) and the more conceptual flavor name (e.g. Tropical) makes these names so transportive. One minute you’re sipping cocoa on an NYC sidewalk; the next you’re lounging on a beach, sipping chocolate out of a coconut. Fancy! The names play a self-indulgent role for The City Bakery: They reinforce connoisseurship by emphasizing the product’s inspired composition.

  • Sunken Treasure, Super Bowl, Happy, Love Potion, Moulin Rouge, Ode To The Polar Bear, What Would Faulkner Drink, Leap Year

    No clue of what you are in for? That’s the fun part! The City Bakery fills your cup with mysteries: incredible stories, fun adventures, unexpected experiences. As you gulp down Ode To The Polar Bear, picture a gang of Eskimos performing a frenetic dance around a fire. Figure out What Would Faulkner Drink on the banks of the Mississippi (think it’s some kind of hard liquor? You’re right!). Finally, as you drink your Leap Year, with hope in your heart and a chocolate ‘stache on your lip, you find serenity in the reminder that there’s still so much sweetness in the world.

    Empathetic, fun, and cheeky, this funky selection communicates the bakery’s intention of getting closer to their consumers through storytelling and the promise of a surprise.

As they cover the spectrum of flavors, they use a rich range of naming approaches that ensure every palate finds its match. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for their 21st birthday!

Jennifer Vasilache is Senior Consultant, Verbal Identity, Interbrand New York

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