Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video The origin of branding, part of Foundations of Branding for Designers.
- Let's go back in time to get a sense of the origin of branding. First, let's go way, way back. As soon as that first Stone Age human pounded out that first stone tool, he or she expected recognition. "I made this!" It's a human condition that we like making things, and when we do, we want others to know who made it. Branding began as a simple application of a symbol or mark on a piece of pottery or brick. This wasn't simply a way to graffiti a name on the bottom of a vase, it was a way to identify who made it and where he or she lived.
When a guest admired that bowl and noticed the stamp on the bottom, he said, "Hey guys, I really like that bowl. "I need one too." And that unique symbol was a clear message telling the viewer where to go. For most of our civilization's history the general public has been illiterate. Government, commerce and religion used symbols and images to communicate a message. The ichthus symbol, resembling a fish, identified the early Christian church.
Jewish communities used the Star of David as a symbol, while Muslims adopted the color turquoise as an identifier. It's important to recognize these symbols did more than simply identify the religion, they represented the entire belief structure. Every story, action and interaction with Christianity, Judaism or Islam was embodied in them. By the 18th century, high-end porcelain makers added a proprietary mark to their pottery.
This increased the value and legitimacy of the object. Out west, ranchers used a hot brand to mark their cattle, hence the term "branding." By the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing and mass production changed the economy. Branding managed the job of identifying one teapot from another of lesser quality, and just like that bowl in Ancient Rome, if I liked it, I'd look for the same brand again.
For millennia, branding had identified who made the product, where it came from and it's quality. The competition was about to get much stiffer.
- 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