The Global Viking Brand
The Viking brand is truly global, and symbols such as the Viking ship (often in cartoon form) or the horned helmet, the drinking horn and even the axe have become shortcuts to a popular image of the Vikings as fearsome warriors and adventurers. Interestingly, because the Viking stereotype is so widely replicated, it is often used in a tongue-in-cheek way by musuems, tourist boards and companies representing Scandinavia to the world, in full knowledge of its flaws. In other words, the global brand has acquired a life of its own. Below, we offer a map showing some of the hundreds of examples of Viking branding from across the globe, from Shnitzels to lingerie! This is followed by some further examples of national or regional variations on this global brand. You can also browse this search of the tag 'branding' to see around 300 examples collected on the site.
The Vikings in Normandy
Normandy is one area of France where Norse heritage is celebrated, and consequently there are examples of branding which draw on a popular image of the Vikings as well as particularly Norman variations. One ready source for branding is the Bayeux tapestry depicting the events surrounding the Norman Conquest of Anglo-Saxon England. Images from the tapestry - particularly ships - appear on souvenirs, but also on local produce. We have come across several Normandy cheeses with Viking branding - including this example ('Le Drakkar') featuring a dragon-prowed ship with the Arms of the Duchy of Normandy on its sails. There are also several Viking-themed food outlets and hotels in Normandy.
The Viking Brand in the Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands were colonised by the Norse from c. 800 onwards, and Faroese has many similarities to the Old Norse language. Norse heritage is hard to miss in the Faroes, but Viking branding is perhaps not geared towards tourists in the same way as it is in other places settled by the Vikings. The logo of Tórshavn municipality features Thor's hammer, and Faroese stamps regularly feature artefacts from the Viking Age or scenes from Norse mythology. Branding perhaps reflects a more complex relationship to a 'living' heritage.
The Vikings in South-East Asia
An interesting feature of the global use of the Viking brand is alternative meaning that has developed in parts of South-East Asia, including Japan and South Korea. Here a Viking is a term used of a buffet (usually all you can eat), and whilst restaurants often adopt popular Viking symbolism such as horned helmets and the names of the Norse gods, the term has only been in use since the 1950s, and seems to takes its inspiration from the 1958 Kirk Douglas film The Vikings as this article explains.
The Viking Brand in the US
The Viking brand in the US is characterised by enthusiastic uptake of such symbols as the fallacious horned helmet, and by reference to Scandinavian heritage. Marvel Comics' Thor is also an important brand, introducing generations of Americans to the Norse gods in cartoon form. Branding is particularly prominent in areas of the US with high levels of historic Scandinavian immigration, such as Minnesota, where the state football team is named the 'Minnesota Vikings'. Curiously, there are numerous school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps using Viking branding in their insignia across the US. The examples below are from schools in California, Tennessee, Hawaii and Nevada.
If you have more examples of Viking branding that you think should be included in this exhibit, why not send them in using our contribution form here.