Authentic brands (Toni)

Haagen Dazs

Background: Although this ice-cream brand’s name sounds like it originated in a quaint Scandinavian village, in truth the name was created from two nonsensical words and dreamed up by an entrepreneur in the Bronx.

Strategy: Regardless of where Häagen-Dazs ice cream comes from, the name evokes a sense of place that feels authentic. A brand’s authenticity does not have to be literal, as long as it resonates with the consumers buying the product. Still, the tactic isn’t foolproof, as one failed competitor — Frusen Glädjé — that can attest.


Background: In its beginning stages, this Seattle-based coffee chain emerged as a second home, a place where people could linger for hours over “grandes” of java and find employees who would whip up custom-made orders.

Strategy: While Starbucks may have figured out how to sell the “coffee experience,” the company’s rapid growth has made it difficult to stay true to that fabricated experience. In a widely publicized memo in February, even Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz admitted the brand had suffered from a “watering down of the Starbucks experience.”

Abercromie and Fitch

Background: The company’s legacy as a purveyor of outdoor paraphernalia is reflected in the visual iconography of its more than 900 U.S. stores. Even with the wooden canoes and racks of shotguns decorating its stores, Abercrombie & Fitch has become a modern-day hangout for teens buying T-shirts and jeans.

Strategy: The brand has managed to stay true to its origins while also adapting to the times; it has secured appeal for its customer demographic with the dark lighting and amped-to-the-max soundtrack of an after-hours dance club.


Background: The company, often referred to as the king of denim, created the world’s first pair of jeans in 1873 and continues to hang on as a brand because of its rich heritage

Strategy: Throughout the years, Levi’s has persisted in distributing its signature product –boxy jeans — despite the many changes in denim trends that have occurred since the early 1990s.


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Filed under Big Idea, Core Values Campaign, Secondary Research, Toni, Trends Research

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