—Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlashSM Name Development

Häagen-Dazs. Mmmmm. Just the thought of their ice cream makes me feel good. And I know it will taste good because it was born in Scandinavia, right?

Then I learned the brand history. I must say I was disappointed. Häagen-Dazs was born in the Bronx, New York in 1961. Its creators were not Scandinavians but rather two Polish immigrants, Reuben and Rose Mattus. Their first retail store opened in Brooklyn in 1976, and today Häagen-Dazs is sold in 55 countries around the world.

Why did they choose the name Häagen-Dazs? The name was created to look Scandinavian for Americans. This European cachet radiates craftsmanship, tradition, and wholesomeness, thereby justifying the higher price. On early labels they used an outline of Denmark, even though the umlaut is not used in the Danish language.

As Häagen-Dazs succeeded, the copycats emerged. American Richard Smith created Frusen Glädjé using an “almost Swedish” name (without the accent on the final e the word means “frozen joy” or “frozen delight”). Häagen-Dazs actually tried to sue Frusen Glädjé to prevent them from using a Scandinavian marketing theme (thereby demonstrating a new level of audacity).

The umlaut parade continued with the launch of Yogen Früz, a frozen yogurt, and Freshëns frozen yogurt’s “Smoöthies.”

This “foreign branding” implies a superior heritage where none exists, which represents inauthentic branding at its best.

Let’s consider another ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s. Go to their website and read their company history.  It’s a scrapbook! And you can see pictures of Ben and Jerry. And you can learn about this remarkable company who has remained true to its roots.

Ben & Jerry’s = AUTHENTIC BRANDING. Häagen-Dazs…not so much.