Branding! How it all started
In recent years, branding has become a household name for most of the business enterprise. When we trace down the history, we can observe that branding has always been there since ancient time (350 A.D to be specific). The term brand was derived from Old Norse word “brandr” which means to burn. At first, farmers used to brand their livestock by marking with a fire-heated symbol representing their ownership. It was during the 1500s, however, this practice still exists and is commonly known as livestock branding. After farmers, branding was practiced by the manufacturers. Wine producers used branding as a tool to differentiate their product and as a symbol of quality. More and more merchants further continued the practice of branding their product to represent source and quality. It basically served as a tool for distinguishing the goods of one producer from others.
Till this time, branding was done in an informal or unorganized manner. It was only in the 1980s that branding became a major part of marketing strategies. Since then, the major advancement in the field of marketing and branding had established branding as a component of financial strategy as well. Now, it is being recognized as an important component of intangible asset of a business and is known as brand equity.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) first developed the brand management concept, which was further redefined by many other major companies like Unilever, Nestle to name a few. The 1990s was the era when most of the companies started valuing brands and took it as a major asset of the company. They worked on developing and managing corporate brands as a major function of the top level of management.
Earlier, brand and branding were more associated with physically existing things like products. It slowly began to be used for companies or organizations. With more need and relevancy being realized, the concept of branding came to work for services as well. Now, brand and branding are done for virtually everything. Of course, product, service, an organization can be branded, but an event, people, places, experience, idea, concept, image, and even religion can be branded.
Now, branding is growing as a corporate culture. Moreover, it has brought remarkable changes in social behavior, norms, values, and practices. People are forming communities on the basis of brands they follow or use, where they share similar values. Apple and Royal Enfield are the examples of such brand communities. Customers today identify themselves with the brand, they are loyal, advocate about the brand in the society and when time permits become a partner for the business and product development.
From merely being a tool of identification and differentiation, brand and branding have grown up today to become a big thing in the marketing and business world.