When you connect your brand to a country make sure you do it all the way, Air-O-Swiss case

Recently I was in the market for a humidifier. East Coast USA gets quite dry during winters and I wanted to make sure the apartment stayed at a comfortable level. Not knowing anything about humidifiers I went to my favorite online retailer Amazon for some investigation and product comparison. This is how humidifiers look at Amazon.


Well…. it appears that pretty much all humidifiers have problems of some sort. Just read those endless stories on Amazon.. What I did learn was that it is important to have one that is easy to clean and does not make a lot of noise.

So, I had to make up my mind and found one humidifier made by a company called Air-O-Swiss from Switzerland (obviously)! What could be better than a humidifier made by a company from Switzerland? The country in the Alps? Images of the mountains, the clean air, the lakes, the snow, the purity immediately came through my mind… and I was even more convinced after visiting the Air-O-Swiss website:


Don’t you just see Switzerland boozing from the site? The mountains, the snow and even the flag of Switzerland in the logo and displayed as favicon in your browser address bar! Air-O-Swiss has it all connected to Switzerland: I wondered whether the company should just rename itself to Air Of Switzerland.

So, with all that knowledge I was super convinced! I was willing to pay the extra dollars for a product from Europe. It would be something different than all the products here in the USA that are made in China (clean air in China anyone?). I placed my order at J&R and picked up the humidifier later in the day. The sales box design was again boozing Switzerland. I was even more convinced this was the best choice. Air-O-Swiss has its brand identity in order, it is all working really well!

At home I installed the humidifier, turned it on and enjoyed the fresh humidity with a taste from the Alps and Europe. It was a total feel good!

Air-o-Swiss... made in Korea!
Air-o-Swiss... made in Korea!

The next day when I brought the sales box to the paper recycling a total disappointment started to sink in. Just when I unfolded the sales pack I noticed a little note … “Made in Korea”… WHAT???? Gone was that wonderful fresh air of Switzerland feeling… gone was the feeling I had bought a European product…. gone was the feeling that my humidifier was somehow better than all those “Made in China” versions…

Here is what I would suggest to Air-O-Swiss: when you tie your brand so close to your country Switzerland (from brand logo and other visual identity elements) and when you ride so hard on the Switzerland ‘fresh air Alps’ train don’t damage those great differentiators by assembling your products outside of Switzerland. It really turned a great story into disbelief.

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One thought on “When you connect your brand to a country make sure you do it all the way, Air-O-Swiss case”

  1. I know – I hate that! I still remember the feeling of let-down when at the age of 17-18 I found out that Häagen-Dazs was made in Jersey. New Jersey of all places!!! I had always thought I was eating some great luxurious European delicacy. Nope, just ice cream from Jersey. I think the spelling of Häagen with the ‘ä’ followed by ‘a’ should have clued me in – it looks really made up.

    I switched to Ben and Jerry’s sometime after that and never looked back. 🙂

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