Insights from 20,000+ Naming and Branding Projects

Brand Name Creation: How Häagen-Dazs Created Brand Mythos



Upon hearing the name, customers are transported to a quaint little village in denmark where ice cream is crafted by hand in an adorable store on a street lined with candy-colored buildings.

It probably looks a little something like this in your head, no?

But what does Häagen-Dazs actually mean? It has to mean something in Danish? Dutch? Swedish? General Scandinavian? No? What about Old Norse?

Sorry. We’re dismantling the cute Danish village of your dreams brick by brick.

Behind the name

Häagen-Dazs actually doesn’t mean anything. It’s a made up word invented by Reuben Mattus,  a Polish immigrant and the founder of the ice cream brand. He specifically came up with it to sound specialty, high-end, artisanal, and European.

We’ve been duped!

That sweet, sweet creamy ice cream is not in fact an imported delight. It’s just clever branding applied to a great product that actually originated in New York City.

The brand arose in the ‘60s as a response to mass produced ice cream that lacked quality, so constructing the mythos of European craft was actually instrumental to the brand’s success.

Mattus knew that people wanted quality, and they were willing to pay for it. He knew his brand needed a name that communicated quality and aligned with people’s desires. A European-sounding name was a great fit. By creating a mythos in the mind of the customer, Häagen-Dazs aligned itself with quality and craft.

The brainstorming takeaway

When you are coming up with business names, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why it’s helpful to consider what style of creative business names you want to explore.

We think of names in five styles that set up a foundation for a brand:

  • Modern
  • Classic
  • Pragmatic
  • Emotional
  • Clever

The business name controls the tone of your brand. As such, it is a good idea to consider your tone as you begin brainstorming, just like Häagen-Dazs did to build a high end and exotic brand. They used a classic business name to convey these values.  

Consider your brand tone when naming your business, as well.

For example, a high-end fashion brand that wants to align itself with  other high-end fashion may create an abstract name with French or Italian roots to parallel similar brands. On the other hand, an investing company that wants to break the mold may utilize a more modern name to show that they are different from classic investment firms.

Use this brainstorming technique is a great starting point because it will help you focus your direction as you move forward in search of powerful brand name ideas. Häagen-Dazs illustrates how starting off with general criteria for naming can help you come up with the right brand name.

Coming up with a business name is hard, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for or what you need. That’s why it pays to set up some brand name criteria as you begin brainstorming. If you’re after the right sound, try out poetic techniques for naming a business.

About the author

Meghan O'Toole
Insights from 20,000+ Naming and Branding Projects

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