Brands have been around for a very long time. On the brink of civilization, they were mostly related to livestock, food, clothing, weapons, furniture, etc. Kind of the basic things and needs every human would value, and was unable to do themselves.
It came into being when trading made its introduction. It defined who people liked and who had good products or services. It also made quick work of those that weren’t liked or provided a certain quality in their work. Quality, beauty, art, usability, sturdiness, taste, handiness, etc. quickly became the tools to define people and products with. Creating a brand for each trader out there.
So how does branding affects the world?
First I would say that it gave value to solving someone else’s problem. “Give me a cow and 5 chickens and I’ll make your furniture...” When someone else helps us solve a problem we have, we start liking that person. Next, we talk about that person to our family, friends, and even strangers. They become part of our story and we spread the word about their good work. This in time created new business for whoever helped us.
Even today the same principle still applies. Although we no longer pay with cows or chickens and replaced it with money; spreading the word still exists. Even to this day mouth to mouth is still the most effective way to increase sales as a business. How other people feel, think and talk about what we do or didn’t do for them takes away or gives us new opportunities. It affects how we think about others and how we value the opinion of others. Branding changed how we decide something has more or less value. We value certain products more, simply because they were made by company x even though company Y makes the same product and sells it for less money. Mind-blowing if you ask me...
It didn’t take long before competition was introduced into doing business. We wanted more, to be the best, to be accepted, to get approval, to be a leader; and so did others. Therefore we had to make sure we left our mark on what we sell and own. Branding was introduced, where we branded our livestock and products with a unique symbol or signature. It helped people recognize where something came from, to find its origin. It created a universal language. Even today if someone shows us the Apple or Nike logo we know what it is and where it came from. We can understand someone who doesn’t speak the same language by using symbols and pictograms. In fact, this was how writing started. Even when our ancestors lived in caves, they would depict animals, themselves, nature, and more on the cave walls. Sixty-four thousand years later we can still understand those drawings. When the first major cities developed symbols were used as the first writings to keep track of the food stock; mostly done by priests in the temples or kings in their palaces.
Symbolism today is still used to bridge the language gap worldwide. Some great examples are road signs and icons/pictograms. Brands still use that universal language today to communicate with us. You can recognize a lot of logos for sure and know exactly what they mean and stand for. Over time pictograms became so embedded in our society that it now serves as a universal language. Even to a point that we used pictograms to send a message into space.
Trading or doing business came forth out of the need to solve a problem. Most of those problems are related to making our lives easier. We started using tools to do the work for us, to do it faster, more efficiently, and with less effort to create better or more results. When we started branding ourselves and our work we also sped up innovation. To be the best in what we do, we had to invent new and better ways of doing things. We started using animals to do heavy labor for us on the crop fields so we could yield more crops. Build tools to do more in less time to keep up with demand. The Ancient Greek Civilization was a great example of a time of great innovation, and so was the Roman Empire, The Renaissance, and Industrial Revolution. The most recent is still happening. We live in a time where innovation is the core of every production company.
In the early days of trading, something magical happened. People started to settle around the places where trade and farming were happening. When small settlements grew in population so did trading, farming, and travelers. Market places quickly became the busiest places on earth. Communities grew and so did our social lives. A simple hierarchy was developed and the first states were formed. Even to this day that same hierarchy still applies to our villages, towns, cities, and countries.
At some point in our history, we started forming guilds, a group of people gathering together that have similar skills, crafts, and trades. They often shared recourses and were led by guild masters. A guild master was considered a highly skilled person in his/her craft. Every guild member had their rank from novice to journeyman to masters or even grandmaster. This provided status and recognition for their craft, skills, and trade.
Today we still have some form of guilds, more disguised into clubs, communities, networks, and yes brands. Almost every famous brand has its own community where people share their stories and experiences with that brand. Building a business today is all about building your community, your network, and your guild. Branding is what helps us to build that community by sharing our values, skills, craft, knowledge, and love for what we do.
It might not be obvious at first, but brands help us shape our moral compass from a young age. Children quickly like or dislike certain toys and toy brands. These brands have their own values, often shared via the toys or the marketing and ads. Children will pick this up quite easily and carry this with them for the rest of their lives. It also doesn’t stop, even as an adult, we align ourselves to brands that share our values or appreciate them more when we get to know them. Brands can also change our values when they share something and we get that “ahah” moment. Sometimes they can become our moral compass and help us move forward in life.
Psychology has and will always be a part of branding. As a Brand Strategist myself I had to learn how people think and behave when you interact with them. For each new brand it’s also recommended to do the market research into behavioral patterns their audience has, to better align their communication with their audience. After all we humans are social animals and everything we do starts and ends with communication; even in our own bodies.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you again in the next blog!