Ice Cream Company Uses Puns to Build a Brand

Coolhaus truck
Coolhaus truck

Natasha Case has every little kid's dream job: running ice cream company.

She founded Coolhaus with Freya Estreller while working in architecture at Walt Disney Imagineering. The company combines her passions of food and architecture, which she's dubbed "Farchitecture."

Hard to believe that her architecture-inspired gourmet ice cream company made its debut at the Coachella Valley Music Festival in 2009 in a barely drive-able postal van that Case and Estreller purchased on Craigslist. The business has since expanded to 11 mobile ice cream trucks and carts (5 in southern California, three in New York City, two in Austin and one in Dallas), plus two southern California storefronts and partnerships with 1,500 gourmet markets across the U.S.

Recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list, Case spoke with Name.Kitchen about crafting the name for her business and how she aspires to bring architecture to the masses through creatively named ice cream sandwiches such as "IM-Pei-Nut Butter," "Mintimalism" and "Mies Vanilla Rohe."

How did you get into the ice cream business?

I worked on my "farchitecture" [food + architecture] concept in college and grad school. My peers loved it. While working at Disney Imagineering, I was making ice cream sammies [sandwiches] and naming them after famous architects. I knew I had something because people kept coming back for more, and they loved the punny ice cream sandwich names.

So the puns were part of the hook. Why the pun on architects specifically?

It was sort of a comedic relief for friends who were experiencing industry cutbacks.

Coolhaus 2
Coolhaus 2

Why was it important to bring in the architectural element into the business name and products?

A lot of people were hesitant about the idea of using dessert to teach the masses about architecture, but here we are today. It was a main element from the start, so there was no question about it really. 

Before 'Coolhaus,' were you calling the business by any other name?

We were temporarily calling it "Farchitecture" and we were considering calling our truck "The F Truck." But that was a pretty lewd-sounding, horrible name! 

How did you land on 'Coolhaus'?

[My co-founder Estrella and I] were in our first apartment in Silver Lake. Our friend Lucy was over. We had many of the ice cream sammie architectural pun names, but not a name for the company besides "Farchitecture" [Food + Architecture], which was more of a philosophy than a business entity. As we were listing the architects names and their corresponding sammies, she asked, "What is 'Rem Koolhaas' sandwich?" We thought, "That's it! Coolhaus!" 

Why was it ... "it"?  

The company name was very important since we love our puns. Coolhaus is a triple entendre: Bauhaus is an architectural movement of the '20s and '30s; Rem Koolhaas was a famous Dutch architect and theorist; and "cool house," well, because the sammies kind of look like little houses.

Coolhaus 3
Coolhaus 3

How have all the puns, in the company name and its ice cream sandwiches, helped to elevate the business?

I would say it is a big part of it. But it can't all be about the name. However, it definitely is a strength for us on top of having an awesome product. The names just resonate with people. [Coolhaus] describes our business, but makes a triple entendre while doing. So if you get the reference, it's even more fun!

What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs when it comes to drumming up a name for their business?

Be playful, take risks -- also don't expect it to sound perfect at first. A good name will grow on you and will expand in its meaning.

Click here to learn more about Coolhaus.