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  • Jonathan Joyner

The History of Branding

branding iron

Branding began as a simple mark or symbol on a piece of pottery or brick. This was a way of identifying who made the item. The brand told people where to go to get one for themselves. Government, religion used symbols to convey a message. Christians used a fish, Jews used the Star of David, and Buddism used the Dharmachakra (Dharma wheel). These symbols did more than identify the religion. They represented the entire belief structure. Potters later added a mark to their work which increased their legitimacy. In the West, ranchers would use a hot brand to mark their cattle. Hence the term branding. By the industrial revolution, branding identified one tea pot from one of lesser quality. Branding identified, who made a product, where it came from, and its quality.

Branding became more important with the rise of industrialization. Industrialization brought about mass production and easy transport. General stores were no longer limited to just one brand of flour, salt, sugar, or tea. This increased competition meant branding was becoming more important. In order to succeed, a manufacturers of product now needed: quality, value, and a good reputation to stand out from each other. This need for differentiation lead to what we know as branding today.

As technology progressed, focus less on a written or spoken medium and more on a visual one. Imagery for branding became king. A unified, visual identify became key to differentiate one brand from another. For a brand message to be effective, that message has to be consistent every time the audience interacts with it.

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