Relations between Iceland the country and Iceland the supermarket chain have been frosty for quite some time. And the cold war warmed up in November as the country announced it was going to legally challenge the use of the company’s trademark, arguing that while the supermarket has attempted to freeze them out from using the word Iceland, it has benefitted from positive media coverage about the country. The country’s legal position is that the term ‘Iceland’ is exceptionally broad and ambiguous in definition, often rendering the country’s firms unable to describe their products as Icelandic.
Now, apart from being an opportunity for lots of puns relating to temperature, there is a question here for both the country and the supermarket, not just about defending their brand name, but about whether the brand ‘Iceland’ is really the best they can do. We think if both entities were to research their brand name, it might get a chilly reception in the focus groups.
For Iceland the country, there is a myth that the name was given to the island by its early inhabitants to discourage further Nordic settlers from arriving in their green and pleasant land. The myths also relate to the naming of the icier ‘Greenland’ to encourage settlers there. While these are just myths, it is still true that the name Iceland does not reflect the variety of landscapes and the beauty of the tourist offer that this island presents. If the name needs to focus on a feature, such as the ice, maybe “Aurora” would be a better brand name. Renaming a country would be a great branding project and Grain is up for the job if required!
For Iceland the supermarket chain, now might be the time to position itself as far more than a freezer centre or specialist in selling frozen goods. A visit to their website indicates they sell a lot more non-frozen than frozen lines (the shopping website itself is groceries.iceland.co.uk). Their current tagline and advertising message “The Power of Frozen” seems inadequate and almost contrary when linked to their own question Where can you get Britain’s best mince pies? Twitter did not take long to spot the opportunity for a rebrand of the Iceland chain, although the suggestions had obviously not been put forward by a professional branding agency and the winner ‘Icy McIceFace’ is not a very serious contender. (Maybe Attenborough-land instead?)
Of course there is a more amicable solution to this issue. A full merger of the two brands! Iceland stores could all host Icelandic Tourist Board information points. The supermarket chain already has an outlet in Reykjavík and other Icelandic towns and links with the Iceland national football team. It could extend this to other national sports teams and include more distinctive Icelandic cuisine in its food ranges. Why fight when you have so much in common? Or is that idea a fridge too far? Just Let it Go…