The word "brand" is derived from the Old Norse brandr meaning "to burn." It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (or brand) onto their products.
The oldest generic Brand, which is in continuous use in India, since Vedic period, 9000–10000 years ago is known as 'Chyawanprash'. It is widely used in India and many other countries and is a herbal paste of 45 herbs made for revered Rishi named Chyawan. This brand was developed at Dhosi Hill in North India, on an extinct Volcanic Hill.
The Italians were among the first to use brands, in the form of watermarks on paper in the 1200s.
Although connected with the history of trademarks and including earlier examples which could be deemed "protobrands" (such as the marketing puns of the "Vesuvinum" wine jars found at Pompeii), brands in the field of mass-marketing originated in the 19th century with the advent of packaged goods. Industrialization moved the production of many household items, such as soap, from local communities to centralized factories. When shipping their items, the factories would literally brand their logo or insignia on the barrels used, extending the meaning of "brand" to that of trademark.
Bass & Company, the British brewery, claims their red triangle brand was the world's first trademark. Lyle’s Golden Syrup makes a similar claim, having been named as Britain's oldest brand, with its green and gold packaging having remained almost unchanged since 1885. Another example comes from Antiche Fornaci Giorgi in Italy, whose bricks are stamped or carved with the same proto-logo since 1731, as found in Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
Cattle were branded long before this. The term "maverick," originally meaning an unbranded calf, comes from Texas rancher Samuel Augustus Maverick whose neglected cattle often got loose and were rounded up by his neighbors. The word spread among cowboys and came to be applied to unbranded calves found out wandering alone.