The Cooks Bellecour brand design logo on a window of the store.

Cooks | Bellecour


A half century old cooking retailer and school out of the Crocus Hill neighborhood of St Paul, MN became a local mainstay for their curated assortment of tools, and accessible culinary education. Then comes COVID, a challenging time for small businesses worldwide. Connecting with like-minded neighbors, Cooks owners, Marie Dwyer and Karl Benson, paired up with award-winning chef and restaurant entrepreneur, Gavin Kaysen, to start a bakery pop-up that would eventually lead to a more permanent business partnership, forming a trifecta of an ultra-immersive retail, bakery, and cooking experience. But how do they classify, codify, and grow this experience? Who is this experience for and who could it serve tomorrow?

A Venn Diagram of comparing Cooks of Crocus Hill and Bellecour Bakery.
A quote from co-owner of Cooks | Bellecour, Karl Benson.


Phase 1: Brand and Experience Strategy

Capsule facilitated a series of working strategy sessions and brand sprints with the Cooks team to help uncover brand needs, questions, and future opportunities, identifying the secret sauce of their experience, assessing innovation territories, defining core audiences and mapping the customer journey. The work allowed the team to take a close look at the vital and unique interrelationship between Bellecour Bakery, and Cooks' cooking classes and retail, and how to capture and enhance their unicorn experience.

A series of post it notes showing the customer journey at Cooks | Bellecour.
Capsule and Cooks | Bellecour team members during a strategy workshop.

Phase 2: Brand Transition and Messaging Strategy

With all the proper brand and experience strategy ingredients gathered, Cooks of Crocus Hill and Bellecour Bakery decided to turn their collaborative bakery and retail, cooking pop-up into a permanent partnership: Cooks | Bellecour. To fully prepare and launch the brand partnership in a way that honored each brand's heritage as well as celebrated something altogether new, fresh and forward-looking, Capsule facilitated a brand transition strategy workshop and messaging strategy for the rebrand, exploring brand positioning and experience implications to share with loyal customers upon launch.

The resulting storytelling produced a tight narrative to bring the two legacy brands together, providing stakeholders with an objective and engaging piece of messaging that could be flexibly used to signal the brand transition across print, web, social, press, email and internal communications.

    A graphic showing the new Cooks | Bellecour.
    A series of slides for the brand transition.
    Post it notes showing Cooks | Bellecour strategy.
    Capsule and Cooks of Crocus Hill team collaborating.
    Graphic signage for Cooks | Bellecour story and messaging.
    A graphic showing various messages for Cooks | Bellecour.
    A Cooks | Bellecour logo mark on a storefront sign.
    A quote from marketing manager of Cooks | Bellecour, Olivia Deering.


    After a series of brand strategy sessions and experience design workshops, often completed over a Kouign Amann or two, the Cooks | Bellecour team were able to start cooking from the same recipe card, opening the door for new ingredients to be sprinkled into the experience without disrupting the masterful dish they had crafted.

    The resulting conversations, workshopping and strategy output allowed for Cooks | Bellecour to confidently step into their next 50 years of innovation with clarity, alignment and agility.

    Launching their 3rd retail location and making a merger into something much greater, Capsule is proud to remain collaborative thought partners with this unicorn brand as it continues to grow in our community.


    "In our history, we’ve not found success engaging 'experts' - Do what we say and you’ll be successful, just like us. Aaron and the team at Capsule are fantastic. Their 'expertise' is the process of drawing our experience into their system of engagement. Working with them has been a strong illustration of the end result being greater than the sum of the individual parts. Exploring and subsequently forming a partnership with Gavin and Soigne was a huge undertaking. Capsule’s work, and our work together, has provided a strong foundation for our Vision and our marketing. We are already working to define our next project." — Karl Benson, Co-Owner, Cooks | Bellecour

    Our moms say we should put ourselves out there.