There are various points of view that define and explain the origins of branding. What do you think? How it all started? Did it all began in the caves of our ancestors and their strange sign language or was I maybe in the Wild West. Some people even think that Josiah Wedgewood invented the whole concept of branding in the 17th century. As we said, there are different theories and points of view that explain the origins of branding. However, we think that we can all agree with the fact that branding is as old we people are. And while our theories about business building and branding and the different roles they play have changed over the years, most elements of branding are there all along. They were just not being carefully analyzed or properly used. .
This brings us to an essential point: The development of branding through the years is by no means universal, at least, not yet. As a matter of fact, the development of branding relies on specific socioeconomics conditions. Through the famous hierarchy of needs, invented by Abraham Maslow we know that people don’t just move to the fulfillment of higher needs, until their most important and immediate ones are satisfied. The same goes with branding. Of course, one must be in a specific economic position to afford in higher order brand. This is a usual case for a lot of individuals in the developed economies, but definitely not for all. Another important thing to keep in mind is the cultural and historical difference.
The Brand as a Quality Insurer
- One of the first businesses to establish a modern idea of brand and business building and marketing through communication and go-to-market plans and strategies was Procter & Gamble. At that time, when Harley Procter started branding and with him others such as the Quakers and Coca-Cola, their focus was on functional benefits only. The brands for them were a way to guarantee and signify a superior quality. The idea behind this strategy was to physically differentiate their product from its competitors and to create a quality reputation which would enable them to charge a premium.
The Brand as a Badge
In the 60s came a passion for a cultural theory for these two outstanding enthusiasts: Vance Packard with his famous The Hidden Persuaders and Ernest Dichter, known as the man who invented motivational research and coined the term focus group. With these two people came the birth of looking at prestige and popular brands as status badges or symbols.
The idea is quite simple – what we consumer says a lot about who we are or who we would like to be. This had been true from the beginning of branding. It means that all of our actions and choices have a personal and social dimension. For branding and marketers experts this opened a new playing area: marketing and positioning brands for their social currency, using and triggering extrinsic motivations, and promising the gain of social prestige way beyond the product’s functional advantage. Very soon, it all became about putting brands and businesses in aspirational situations to develop an impression of them having the aura of a more desirable and sophisticated life.
This concept of lifestyle branding was created and hasn’t left our side since then, except when the brand as a building blog, the brands as a medium, and the brand as a myth were invented.
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