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  • Writer's pictureMichael Marshall

A short history of "Branding"


Logos of the biggest brands in the world
From Tech to News to Food, brands have shaped the world we live in

I have always been interested in what makes a brand, which is unusual because I don't really care for brand names and I have never been obsessed with owning one brand over another. My interest lies in a somewhat deeper place that sees a brand a type of fictional person, the persona of a company. Companies in the modern era are literally considered as legal persons with limited liability under the eyes of the law and this emancipation of an idea allowed companies to grow up to become the biggest players in our 21st century world. But a company is just a legal document and a structure without a brand, just like you are just sack of carbon based molecules that consumes energy without your personality.


I see the brand of a company as the thing that personifies it and makes it relatable, and therefor desirable, to its consumers. So I figured I'd write a short article about the history of the concept of a brand, let me know what you think in the comments.


Branding has a long and fascinating history that can be traced back to ancient times. The term "brand" originally referred to a mark or symbol that was burned onto livestock to indicate ownership. Over time, branding evolved into a more complex and multifaceted practice that involved the creation of distinctive names, symbols, and images to identify and differentiate products and services.


One of the earliest examples of branding can be found in ancient Egypt, where merchants would use hieroglyphics to mark their goods. In medieval Europe, artisans and craftsmen would use distinctive marks, or "maker's marks," to identify their products and differentiate them from others.


In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution led to the mass production of goods, which created a need for companies to differentiate their products from one another. This led to the emergence of modern branding practices, with companies like Coca-Cola and Levi Strauss creating distinctive logos and brand identities to differentiate their products in a crowded marketplace.


In the 20th century, the rise of advertising and mass media further transformed branding. Companies began to use advertising campaigns to create emotional connections with consumers, associating their products with aspirational lifestyles and values.


Over the last 200 years brands and how they fought for their place inside your desires and thoughts have shaped the world we know today. It was Coca-Cola who decided that Father Christmas should wear a red suit (literally dressing up a cultural icon in a branded uniform to match their colour scheme - Father Christmas originally wore a green suite btw.). It was Malboro who glamorised the life of cowboys and Levi Strauss Jeans who defined what it meant to be a rebel youth who was "free". Brands like MTV shaped and informed the design trends of the 90s and Apple has arguable shaped what the future of technology will look like - at least aesthetically.


Here are four examples of brands that have shaped the modern world in their image


Nike:

Nike is a global sportswear company that was founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. In the early days, the company focused on importing and selling Japanese running shoes. In 1971, the company rebranded as Nike and developed its iconic "swoosh" logo, which was created by a graphic design student named Carolyn Davidson. The logo has become one of the most recognizable in the world, and Nike has used it to build a brand that is associated with high-quality athletic products, innovation, and performance.


Coca-Cola:

Coca-Cola is a beverage company that was founded in 1886 by pharmacist John Pemberton. The company's flagship product, Coca-Cola, was initially marketed as a medicinal tonic and was sold in drugstores. As the company grew, it began to focus on building a strong brand identity, using distinctive logos, colors, and slogans to differentiate its products. The company's famous "It's the Real Thing" campaign in the 1970s helped to solidify its status as one of the world's most recognizable brands. Today, Coca-Cola is known for its iconic red and white color scheme, its script logo, and its association with happiness and celebration.


McDonald's:

McDonald's is a fast-food restaurant chain that was founded in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald. The company's golden arches logo was introduced in the 1950s and has become one of the most iconic logos in the world. The company's branding has been centered around the concept of fast, convenient, and affordable food, with a focus on consistency and quality. McDonald's has used its brand to build a global empire, with restaurants in over 100 countries.


Apple:

Apple is a technology company that was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. The company's first product, the Apple I computer, was designed and built by Wozniak in Jobs' garage. The company's early branding was focused on innovation and disruption, with the company positioning itself as a challenger to the status quo. In the 1980s, Apple introduced its famous "1984" commercial, which positioned the company as a revolutionary force in the technology industry. Today, Apple is known for its sleek, minimalist design aesthetic, its user-friendly products, and its association with creativity and innovation. The company's logo, which features an apple with a bite taken out of it, has become one of the most recognizable in the world.



The importance of branding for businesses

The brand of a business is extremely important, as it is often the primary way that consumers interact with and perceive a company. A brand is more than just a logo or a name; it is the sum total of a company's identity, including its products, services, messaging, values, and reputation. A strong brand can help a business stand out in a crowded marketplace, build trust with customers, and create long-term loyalty. Here are some of the reasons why a strong brand is so important:

  1. Differentiation: A strong brand helps a business differentiate itself from its competitors. By developing a unique and recognizable identity, a business can stand out in a crowded marketplace and create a sense of identity and purpose that resonates with customers.

  2. Trust: A strong brand can help build trust with customers. When a business has a consistent and reliable brand identity, it can create a sense of familiarity and credibility that makes customers feel more confident in their decision to do business with that company.

  3. Loyalty: A strong brand can create long-term customer loyalty. When a business consistently delivers on its brand promises, it can build a base of loyal customers who are more likely to return to that company in the future.

  4. Value: A strong brand can help a business command a premium price for its products or services. When customers perceive a business as having a higher value or status, they may be willing to pay more for its offerings.

Overall, a strong brand is essential for any business that wants to be successful in the long term. By developing a clear and consistent brand identity, a business can create a sense of purpose, differentiation, and loyalty that can help it succeed and grow over time.

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