Nearly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean sits an island smaller than the size of New York State – Iceland.
The economic crash of 2008, documented in the 2010 film Inside Job, devastated the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore and China, costing the countries over $20 trillion.
Icelandic banks alone lost approximately $100 billion, almost nine times the country’s gross domestic profit, and unemployment tripled in a mere three months.
“In the years before the crash, everything was about having a good business plan and executing that plan no matter what,” said Rúna Magnúsdóttir in her book, Branding Your X-Factor.
Magnús identifies that one’s “X-Factor,” or authentic purpose, has two main components: authenticity and transparency. It includes a personal touch and is driven less by ego and more by “care-taking, humanity and just overall respect.”
Years of money-based decisions led Iceland, like many others around the world, to its downfall with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and bailout of AIG in the fall of 2008. In order to rebuild their country, the Icelandic people were forced to come together to form a Country National Assembly.
“To gain our reputation and confidence back as Icelanders, we had to take a good look into ourselves as a nation… We had to re-vitalize our passions, values, purpose, and we had to define crystal-clearly what we stood for in our own minds and in other people’s mind – in other words, our brand,” said Mangús.
In 2005, just prior to the crash, Icelandic product and fashion designers Brynhildur Pálsdóttir, Gudfinna Mjöll Magnúsdóttir and Thuríður Sigurþórsdóttir created Vík Prjónsdóttir. Their goal was to “use creative design to bring the dying Icelandic wool industry into a new and exciting phase.”
Around the mid-1990s, the wool industry of Iceland had gone into a severe decline and factories around the country were shut down.
With this idea in mind, the trio of women formed the company around their authentic purpose. Each design pattern is based on a myth or story and inspired by remote parts of Iceland.
“Each piece has a story, inspired by everyday magic. Vík Prjónsdóttir is fascinated by natural materials, craftmanship and fair and honest production.”
Ten years later, with the help of Vík Prjónsdóttir and a push for people to buy local, the country’s wool industry has begun to thrive once again.
Iceland has been on a steady climb rebuilding their country. With the implementation of concepts like “Inspired by Iceland,” a pro-tourism video campaign, the country has been able to turn itself around.
“With amazingly smart marketing and branding strategy, we have risen like the Phoenix,” said Magnús.