History of branding

Buildings age and become dilapidated

Machines wear out

People die

But what live on are Brands


Branding has come a long way in India and also around the world. The word brand comes from the word “brandr”, a word used by early Norse tribesmen meaning ‘to burn’, as in branding livestock to declare ownership. No doubt, anyone who has read cowboy stories is familiar with the concept of branding cattle.

Over time branding of cattle became not just mark of ownership but also of quality. In the Chicago meat market, buyers recognized quality beef through the brand mark on the cattle. This was because the ranches which produced better quality of meat did so as it implied –better grass or more adequate supply of water, better living conditions for the cattle or a shorter journey to the meat market. No longer was ‘meat on the hoof’ a commodity, it was ‘branded’ and the better quality was recognizable.

In the earliest form, a brand mark defined quality, a mark which differentiated a quality product from other similar products.

Many years ago, in the Soviet Union, when products were sold under a generic name, the factory manufacturing the product had to mark its identity on the packaging. Customers soon realized that a detergent powder produced in one factory was superior to another in quality. Eventually, housewives would turn the packaging around while purchasing to identify the origin of the product and make their choices on the basis of its manufacturing location. The serial number of the factory had become a brand as it is differentiated from other similar detergents, which, according to the state, were supposed to be identical in formulation and in every other way. This is similar to the Nirma story where the brand name was the only differentiator between totally similar products in the Ahemadabad market in the early 1970’s

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