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🧠 I spoke to Willy Wonka. Here's what I learned

Hey there,

Welcome back to the 23rd edition of Brandish

Your guide to crafting an iconic brand

Since this is my first newsletter in 2024, I want to start off by wishing every single one of you a happy new year.

I hope you crush it this year, and reach your wildest goals.

In this newsletter - I want to talk about a company that I’ve admired for a long time. 

Their name is: Mid-Day Squares.

A few months ago - I had the pleasure of speaking with one of their founders, Jake Karls, on the Chew On This Podcast and I want today’s newsletter to be about some of the learnings I got from speaking to him

Buckle up

Kick your feet up

Grab your Brez

And let’s get rocking and rolling

Lesson 1; Big Biz Can’t Do Small Biz

If you’ve been in the space long enough, you’ve probably heard or thought to yourself,

“Why can’t all the big, corporate players do what you do? They have more people, more experience, and more money than you.”

And although it’s a completely fair question, the answer is:

Big Biz Can’t Do Small Biz.

Here’s why…

I refer to this concept as the Process-Creativity Dilemma.

As a company grows, it needs more processes.


Standard Operating Procedures.

They’re absolutely necessary for growing a big company, and the big companies excel at this.


The downside to having clear and scalable processes is that people often don’t think “outside the box.”

And when you don’t think “outside the box,” little to no creativity and innovation occur.

Very few companies have mastered being a big corp while remaining as creative as a small company. Nike is one example, but they are rare.

On the other hand, there are just certain things that Big Businesses can’t afford to do, purely because of their size.

For example, a small biz can afford to send a handwritten note to every customer. A big biz can’t.

Lesson 2; Being bold and putting yourself out there

Let’s face it.

In today’s world, 99% of brands look the same.

Almost every product category is commoditized, and even if you find a way to innovate (like Jolie with their Showerheads…), knockoffs appear before you even order your second inventory batch.

But… this also presents a great opportunity for brands.

People are tired of the “me-too” brands that fail to build any meaningful connection with their customers.

There are just too many of those already.

Mid-Day Squares is a perfect example of how to build meaningful connections with your customers.

From the beginning, they’ve fostered a community that follows their journey in building Mid-Day Squares.

They share their ups,

Their downs,

What they’re working on,

What they’re doing for their customers.

And by doing this, they take their customers on an emotional journey where it’s not just about the chocolate bar.

It’s much more than that. It’s about identifying with the brand's values and being part of a community.

In the early days of Obvi, we used to do this too, to a certain extent. We would go live in the community, share updates, and address our customers' pain points live.

But as we scaled and got busier, we stopped doing this as frequently as in the beginning.

And this is something I dearly regret. We fell into the trap of thinking we needed to only do scalable stuff - and therefore lost our edge in small biz.

So the lesson here is: Even as you get busier and grow your company, don’t forget to do some of the unscalable stuff that delights your customers and builds meaningful connections. 

Lesson 3; Influencer Marketing

Alright, the last lesson.

Mid-Day Squares is going heavy on influencer marketing and are making a lot of (cookie) dough from this (sorry bad joke).

But how do they determine whether an influencer is the right fit?

Here’s their playbook:

  1. Watch their content for a while.

  2. Observe their organic to sponsored ratio. Do they promote anything under the sun, or only the stuff that makes sense for their profile and that they actually use?

  3. Check if they work with other brands you respect.

  4. Consider how their content makes YOU feel. If that feeling doesn’t align with what you want your customer to feel, then it might not be a good fit.

Thanks for reading along

Alright, that’s all I have for today’s newsletter.

I hope you enjoyed it.

If so, feel free to drop me a follow on Twitter @kreatekit

Looking forward to serving you again next week.

- Ankit