Four years after it launched, Mid-Day Squares has become one of the chocolate category’s “it” brands. The company’s explosive growth has been fueled by several factors. It is one of the first functional chocolate bars on the market – “We’re everything a chocolate bar isn’t. Everything a protein bar wishes it was.“
The bars are delicious. On Google, the plant-based organic bars have a 4.9-star rating.. “These bars taste SO good!” raves one customer.”
But arguably the most powerful weapons for Mid-Day Squares has been the ability of the founders to share their story. We’re not talking about carefully crafted, picture-perfect stories. Since its inception, Mid-Day Squares has shared thousands of funny, messy, embarrassing, heartwarming videos with the world. The company’s Instagram promises “Daily episodes of how we’re building this chocolate bar company!”
It’s a strategy that has helped Mid-Day Square stand out from its competition, driven sales and created an emotional bond with consumers, turning them into passionate evangelists. The Canadian brand has over a million Almond Crunch, Fudge Yah and Peanut Butta chocolate bars, with sales expected to top $17 million this year.
Modern-Day Willie Wonka
“We as humans don’t just want commodities; We want to truly feel something inside,” says Mid-Day Squares co-founder Jake Karls. “We want emotions. Stories are how we attach those feelings to products.”
Karls was the keynote speaker at the Aug. 29th kickoff of the SKU Dallas ’22 track. With his eclectic sense of style and charisma, Karls has become the face of Mid-Day Squares. But he had no early aspirations to start a successful CPG brand. On LinkedIn, he describes himself as “an actuary that turned into a modern-day Willy Wonka”
His sister Lezlie Karls was getting into plant-based foods and was always messing around in the kitchen. Her roommate, now husband, Nick Saltarelli, was a bit of a chocaholic. “To convince him into my vibe of eating I whipped up a version of what is known today as Mid-Day Squares. We knew, in order to explode the brand, we needed to bring on my brother, Jake aka Jaques. Jake’s ability to build hype, create a loyal fan base and make our guests brand evangelists was just what we needed.
He decided the best way to build buzz was to take people along on their entrepreneurial journey. They hired a videographer and decided to bare it all.
The Good, the bad and the Ugly
“Our strategy was to share the good, the bad and the ugly,” says Karls. “From Day One, we started documenting the whole journey – the fights, the therapy sessions, the crazy successes. We started sharing without censoring. The moment brands are vulnerable, consumers become empathetic. You start building a fan base rather than a customer base. We don’t talk about the product in these videos. (Customers) are getting so intertwined with the story, and they’re buying the product to support it.
Customers are eating up their content. Some of these IG stories get more than 50K views. That’s why the brand doesn’t have a traditional marketing team, investing instead in creators who produce compelling, provocative, entertaining, and, most importantly, authentic, content.
“Too often, authenticity has become a buzz word,” says Karls. “The only way to truly break through and to build a community around your brand is to be yourself. If you show perfection continuously, it frustrates people. Perfection is not relatable. It’s not possible. Perfection creates a wedge between brands and consumers.”