A brand is a name that influences buyers. This definition captures the essence of a brand: a name with power to influence buyers. But, what really is a brand? People around the globe are now living in a ‘branded’ world. This might sound obscene but in most cases, it is clearly evident. Most consumers prefer to buy a product with a well-known or a popular brand than buying an unpopular one. Some buy products with brands that connote ‘extravagance’ or capacity in terms of ‘wealth’. Why is that so? People can just buy a product regardless of its brand as long as it is durable and presentable, but some prefer a branded yet an unlikely product. There is this certain ‘power’ in brands that attracts consumers, which big marketing companies use, and whatever it is, it contributes to the continually expanding ‘branded’ society.
What is Branding?
Since the earliest times producers of goods have used their brands or marks to distinguish their products. Pride in their products has no doubt played a part in this. More particularly, by identifying their products they have provided purchasers with a means of recognizing and specifying them should they wish to repurchase or recommend the products to others. And this means of recognizing, specifying and identifying of products is called branding.
The use of brands by producers has developed considerably over the centuries and especially in the last century. But the function of a brand as distinguishing the goods of one producer from those of another and of thus allowing consumers freedom of choice has remained unaltered.
Brief History of Branding
The history of branding can be traced back for many centuries before the term came to acquire its modern usage. In Greek and Roman times – and even before that – there were various ways of promoting wares or goods, whether they were wines or pots, metals or ointments. Messages would be written informing the public that this man who lived over there, at that address, could make shoes and that man over there, at that address, was a scribe. The Greek also used town criers to announce the arrival of ships with particular cargoes.
Much early advertising and marketing (in the literal sense) was thus done on a personal basis with a name of a particular individual as important as that of his product or service. The modern development of this can be seen in the name of the private shopkeeper over his shop and some of the best known chain store names have originated as that of a single shop.
In the earliest days shops, as distinct from individuals, were quick to devise a good method of selling their wares. This was the use of pictures. In Rome, for example, a butcher’s shop would display a sign depicting a row of hams while a shoemaker would display a picture of a boot and a dairy would make itself a crude sketch of a cow. Such pictorial promotion was a forerunner of the many inn and pub signs with which the world is familiar today. In classical times, many potential purchasers were illiterate and would be able to identify a particular product only from a picture. Again, the use of pictorial advertising is exploited in many ingenious ways to accompany a brand name and draw the attention of the public to it. A more sophisticated and literate age has led, too, to the use of visual puns to suggest the brand name concerned: the lance on the Lancia logo, the shell to match Shell, the bird’s eye in the Bird’s Eye logo, and the nest and nestlings that illustrate the Nestle products.
The Growth of Branding
Modern branding and the use of individual brand names had its origin in the nineteenth century. The Industrial Revolution and the consequent development of advertising and marketing techniques made the selection of a good brand name of great importance. In both America and Europe, the rapid increase in population, expansion of the railways and...