Meet Erik the Red (c. 950-1003): the world's first brand badass. / by Greg Monaco


Erik Thorvaldsson was a Norwegian viking and also a savvy brand builder. Villagers called him Erik the Red for his shock of bright red hair. He moved from Norway to Iceland with his parents when he was ten years old due to his father being banished from Norway for killing someone.

Years later, Erik seemed to have inherited his father's unique temperament and wound up killing a few people of his own. He was also exiled. He had to leave Iceland for three full years.

He sailed west to a mysterious land that few before him had explored. It was covered in ice. He found a spot that had similar conditions to Iceland and remained there for his three-year term. 

When Erik returned to Iceland after time-served, he brought stories of "Greenland." Erik deliberately gave the land a more appealing name than Iceland to lure settlers. He explained, "people would be attracted to go there if it had a favorable name."

The salesmanship worked. With a name that helped people see a new future (a better future than in Iceland) Erik managed to draw shiploads of colonists with him to work the land. And that, my friends, is how Greenland became green. 

(Thumbnail image credit: Joan Francesc Oliveras Pallerols, Featured image credit: Casper Art)