The Rupp Report: Successful (Sweet) Branding

One hundred years ago, the chocolate manufacturer Theodor Tobler and his cousin and production
manager, Emil Baumann, from Berne, Switzerland, had an excellent idea. They started producing fine
chocolate in a triangle form. From humble beginnings, this chocolate and its packaging became a
Swiss trademark second to none. In a very competitive world full of challenging markets, this
product is still unique. Probably the inventors didn’t know the words “branding” or “marketing” in
those days. However, the product is the perfect combination of successful branding, where marketing
is only the tip of the iceberg.


Toblerone is one of the most welcomed presents all over the world. Everybody recognizes the
chocolate immediately and nobody doubts the quality of the product. So, what’s so special about
Toblerone? Of course, it’s the quality first. The wonderful taste sensation provided by a
one-of-a-kind blend of Swiss milk chocolate with honey and almond nougat. Today, however, quality
is not a sales argument but a prerequisite for entering competitive markets.

Maintaining The Quality

But, how do you maintain a recognizable quality all over the world? Your customer may be in
Asia, America, Europe or Africa; and he wants the same product he’s used to. This means in modern
terms, he wants a reproducible quality. The answer for Tobler is quite simple: Even in times of
globalized production facilities, all Toblerone chocolate is made only at the company’s
headquarters in Berne to maintain the quality. And — be sure — there are more favorable production
places than Switzerland in terms of costs for a manufacturing plant.

The Name Is (Partly) The Game

Or is it the name of the product, Toblerone? The name is a combination of the company’s name “
Tobler” with “torrone,” an Italian nougat specialty. Quite simple, but the idea is brilliant. It
creates an immediate relation between the product and its manufacturer. There is much more in a
name then just letters and figures. You may say that people and machines are different. If so, do
you or your customer recognize immediately a machine that is called RDZY 74 among all other
competing machines with similar names? Look into your own catalogs. Is every one of your sales
staff aware of every model, its name and features? Probably, after answering this question, you may
prefer to have “real” names for your future products. Every name has a strong relationship with
feelings and memories. In the Middle and Far Eastern world, names are not only a blunt description,
but synonymous for the person.

The Packaging

Also, Toblerone’s packaging is unique and protected around the globe. Most chocolate is
produced and sold in table form. In spite of all efforts to create different packagings, the
triangle of the Toblerone has the highest value of recognition.

Some weeks ago, I was invited to Mumbai to present a paper about the possibilities of
technical textiles and nonwovens for traditional textile manufacturers. To be successful in every
market, and especially in new markets, one needs a high acceptance of trust and credibility. As an
example, I used Toblerone to show Swiss credibility and distributed some pieces of this famous
chocolate. Nobody denied the offer, everybody knew the product.

How about your machinery? Is it still green after all these years? There are some European
manufacturers that changed the colors of their machines in recent years. And the good-looking
result was quite obvious at the ITMA 07 in Munich.

You may say now that chocolate and a textile machine are not comparable? Maybe, but both
products are finally selected, bought and digested or used by human beings.

January 22, 2008