19 June 2008
Sanne Lund Hansen
Sanne Lund Hansen

With design as a key element in its business strategy, ice cream maker Hansens Flødeis has achieved convincing results in just four years. This family business has seen impressive growth both in Denmark and abroad, an accomplishment that is strongly related to a brand created through the strategic use of design.

Design from day one
Hansens Flødeis dates back to 1922, when Hans Hansen embarked on the ice cream adventure with his first dairy company, which later changed its name to Frederiksborg Is (Frederiksborg Ice Cream). Hans Hansen's grandson, Hans Jørgen Eibye, took over Frederiksborg Is in 1987. But in the 1990's, there were major changes in the Danish ice cream market. From a market with many relatively small manufacturers, it came to be dominated by a small number of large manufacturers, who controlled prices and concepts. These difficult conditions caused Hans Jørgen Eibye to sell Frederiksborg Is and its customer base to the multinational group Nestlé in 1997.

In 2003, Hans Jørgen Eibye and his two sons decided to resume the ice cream adventure that Hans Hansen had started in 1922. Bringing the family together behind Hansens Flødeis proved a powerful cocktail: As a group, the family members possess the right skills for running a healthy business.

Hans Jørgen Eibye has in-depth knowledge of everything concerning the production, while Anders Eibye is a trained designer, and Rasmus Eibye has had his own advertising agency. This mix of competencies has also altered priorities in the business strategy. For example, both Anders and Rasmus Eibye have insisted that Hansens Flødeis must stand out in the ice cream market by applying design as an integral part of the overall business concept.

According to the two brothers, this enables them to build the Hansens Flødeis brand in a novel approach that has not been seen before in the Danish ice cream market. The family company has decided to invest in design from day one, because design is one of the most important competitive parameters today. This design priority means that Anders concentrates full-time on designing the universe around Hansens Flødeis, assisted by Rasmus Eibye. The company works with freelance designer Mads Berg, partly to bounce all their ideas and products off an outsider, and partly to have a fresh set of eyes assess upcoming products and plans.

Design as brand
From the outset, Hansens Flødeis was aware of the need to adopt an untraditional market approach to achieve a healthy bottom line. As a new initiative in the ice cream industry, Hansens Flødeis therefore chose to work strategically with design to create a brand that gets noticed. Rasmus Eibye talks about the branding considerations:

Rasmus Eibye

"Together with our designer, my brother and I set out to develop a universe and an overall identity for Hansens Flødeis, which included a logo, postcards, posters, etc, all in the same style and with the same message. In order to create a consistent brand, we make sure to tell the same story and express the same style in every point of contact with the customers, as that is the basis for creating a good and a credible brand. Of course, this means that we have to abandon otherwise good ideas and opportunities, because the universe and brand only allow for a certain type of products and designs."

This keen awareness of design from day one springs from the product itself and the high level of quality, as Hansens Flødeis strives for consistency between form and content. Since the product is high-quality ice cream produced in accordance with the old methods of ice cream production, it was a natural choice for Hansens Flødeis to design retro-style luxury packaging. Hansens Flødeis is always made from fresh milk and cream from local dairies, free from artificial additives and aroma substances. The family company draws on the original recipes from 1922, which Hans Hansen used in his day, and which the third generation of Hansens Flødeis now use as the basis for the current ice cream production.

Design creates demand
Since the ice cream adventure began in 2003, Hansens Flødeis has logged impressive growth rates. The family company is trying to manage this growth and keep it down to +80% a year, but at times it has exceeded 400%. "If we wanted, we could have more expansive growth rates, but, for example, we have decided not to take in any more retailers between 1st of May and 1st of September 2007, because we simply can't keep up, and that would make it impossible for us to stay completely true to our brand," says Rasmus Eibye.

In addition to high demand in the domestic market, Hansens Flødeis has also been successful in exporting their luxury ice cream. They have managed to enter the ice cream market in Stockholm, where they are also experiencing growing demand. "We began exporting to Sweden in 2006, and results here have far exceeded our expectations. But our ambitions go further than that. We would love to export to more European metropolises, and here, design plays a key role. Design can help make a product unique, and that makes it easier to sell in Denmark and in the rest of the world," Rasmus Eibye concludes.

This article was originally published by the Danish Design Center and was reprinted with permission from the author. Download the full text article (PDF - 1.2 MB).