Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video Branding before 1950, part of Branding for Designers.
- In 1890, the options available to the typical consumer were limited compared to today. The local general store might carry one brand of flour, coffee, sugar, and salt. If you lived in a larger city, you might have access to more choices. By the twentieth century, this changed. Mass production and easy transportation combined to give the consumer more choices than ever. To the manufacturers, this meant harder competition. To succeed, a product required quality, value, and a good reputation, but first, it had to catch the audience's attention.
Let's use Morton Salt as an example. By 1911, the company decided to embark on their first national advertising campaign. Now, salt isn't that exciting as a visual, so the Morton Salt girl was born. To prove that Morton salt would flow in rainy weather, the famous slogan, "When it rains, it pours" was adopted. This visual and message combined with the salt's quality worked. And Morton's is still the best-selling salt on the Market.
Many companies adopted the same literal approach of a clear illustration and slogan. RCA became synonymous with the terrier, Nipper, listening to his master's voice on a gramophone. Some companies, however, understood the more complex issues of a clear brand presence. Before refrigerators were available, people bought soft drinks stored in ice coolers. Coca-Cola realized that a unique bottle shape would help identify and differentiate it from the other sodas.
By the 1920's, Coca-Cola promoted the brand as part of the American way of life. As more products entered the marketplace, companies began to understand the need for a cohesive message and brand management. Many of these companies promoted their unique selling proposition, meaning they were the only or first option. Kodak was the first company allowing ordinary people to take photographs and have them printed. The name value was enough to maintain the brand and its dominance.
As competition increased, they simplified the product for the user rather than making it more complex, and used this idea of ease-of-use as their primary branding message. The most successful companies were beginning to understand the importance of the audience's emotional connection to the brand. The goal was to connect to the viewer on a basic level, whether it was appealing to patriotism, like Coca-Cola, or promising the life of a movie star, like Max Factor.
The basics of modern branding were now in place. But without television or the internet, it lacked communication methods to reach the widest audience.
- The history of branding (pre- and post-1950)
- The elements of branding
- Conducting research
- Solving problems and presenting solutions
- Creating logos and identity systems
- Building a visual system with color, typography, and more
- Communicating branding with manuals and vision books