History of Branding
Branding is just another form of ownership!
The term brand quite literally means to burn or mark an object. It originates from the Scandinavian term ‘brandr’ in relation to using branding irons to mark the sides of their livestock. Similarly, craftsmen all over the world would brand their initials into products, tools, and their personal belongings. Branding was also used for slaves to signify which owner they belonged to. They’re on the back of our clothes, on the front of our cars, on the side of our shoes, on the packaging for our food. They’re everywhere, literally!
Cattle branding emerged around this time due to the influx of a growing population + food source = trading! Livestock was branded as a way of distinguishing the quality of animals which signified taste. A certain brand would be associated with a certain taste. For example, we associate Applegate Organics products as better quality food produce than non-organic brands. This is because their livestock is entirely grass-fed, non-GMO, humanely raised and all-round natural.
As small civilization came together, more information was shared and as a result, small communities were better able to understand complex ideologies. For instance, the Ichthys fish symbol was used as a secret symbol to unify Christians under a common belief system. What is amazing is that the Ichthys symbol is still used today which proves that brands are powerful and if the true message is soiled in the roots then the brand will go on to live forever.
BY THIS POINT IN HISTORY, BRANDING WAS EVIDENT EVERYWHERE EVEN IN SOMETHING AS BASIC AS BREAD!
But what is peculiar is that by this point in history branding had become a little more complicated. After the disastrous volcanic eruption of Pompeii, a loaf of bread which had been impeccably preserved from the ashes, signified the bakery it came from, the price and the recipient it was meant for - that was all from the markings on the loaf itself.
Every country has a flag, it was a way of unifying a community or several groups of communities together. This was very much the case when England and Scotland decided to come together for the first time under the Union Jack to signify a collaboration of two very different communities or - brands. It would not be until 1801 that Ireland joined too to create the United Kingdom as we know it today. There are several examples of successful merger brands some of which include, Disney & Pixar who have created some of the most notable stories in modern world history. However, there are also some not so successful merger brands… AOL and Time Warner decided to marry in a ceremony that many thought would last forever in 2001. But times were changing thanks to the internet and they were losing $100 billion yearly due to the very different work cultures each company presented. They divorced amicably in 2009.
Although branding signified ownership of an individual's craft and business it would not be until 1876 that ownership was protected. On January 1 the red triangle of Bass Ale became the U.K.’s first trademark in the world. This proved beneficial, look at all the brands we know and love today!
THE YEAR THAT BRANDING WENT FROM MEH TO BOOM!
By this point branding picks up momentum, especially when NBC’s xylophone chimes were performed for the first time live on radio in 1929. But it would not be until 1950 they were registered as an audio service mark. It has been heard by millions of people, more than any other brand in the market today and remains a milestone in branding history for this reason.
Think men in suits sitting around a table within a cigar infused room… or in other words, Mad Men. The 1950s was a second awakening for the world of branding partially because more businesses saw the impact it had. Gordon Lippincott was first to coin the term ‘corporate identity’ due to the complex brand landscapes and the efforts companies went to distinguish themselves in the market.
The year the Apple Mac was invented would propel branding into a whole new sphere: technology. The Apple Mac boasted human interface and easy(ish) computing experience: game changer.
This was the year that proved that acquisitions were the new way to go. Although it was not unheard of, it certainly had a few people blinking when Nestle bought Rowntree for £2.5 billion despite only being worth £1 billion. This method was thought to value belief over the company and it proved beneficial because it is still going strong today! That same year, Nike introduced their ‘Just Do It!’ slogan which was deeply important to their brand image because it revolutionized the trainer market. Suddenly, every brand wanted their own ‘attitude’ because it was not enough just televising their logo!
2000 AND BEYOND!
In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg gave us facebook which is now the largest social media, news and brand marketing platform on the internet and probably the world in the near future some day. By 2006, Google was entered into the dictionary as a verb and that same year Twitter was founded - who doesn't know Twitter? Two years later Airbnb was founded, which are now one of the most successful examples of startups to date. Start up culture is still booming and by 2009 it gave us Uber which completely transformed the way people used internet apps to accommodate to their daily lives.
Brands were no longer just objects, to use and wear and eat. They became virtual attributes to make our lives easier and quality of life better. Societal progression with technology has allowed a series of weird and wonderful inventions to exist purely for this purpose. Who knows, maybe we really will get to fly to Mars before our grandchildren do, or so Elon Musk says.
Hi, I'm Tenille Villebrun,
I help Solopreneurs, Mompreneurs, Entrepreneurs & small businesses (1-2 people) - bring theirs business idea(s) to life.
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