During a visit to Spain in 2018, I was taken aside by a historian in an ancient church (I’m one of those people that people just talk to in public). He was eager to show me the mark of a bricklayer still left after 100’s of years.
We talked about how many people must have seen that mark. How proud the bricklayer must have been to have his sign right out front of one of the most important buildings in the city. He also told me that, in those times the bricklayer was likely paid by the brick, and it was the only proof of his work by the end of the day.
My mind immediately went, “that’s branding. Ancient. Freaking. Branding!”
Needless to say, the definition of, “branding,” has changed pretty significantly over the past few years. And to tell you the truth, it can feel pretty elusive these days.
We live in a globalized world with a lot more people, and a lot more competition. It takes a lot more energy to be recognized, remembered, tried, and trusted than engraving your sign on a brick. One thing is for sure though, this concept is anything but new.
Branding has a rich history, and it has evolved right along with our species.
The History of Branding
Throughout human history, wherever there has been bustling economy and/or competition, there have been brands. Not exactly like the brands of today – but brands nonetheless.
How would you know who you were trading with in ancient times? Why were some merchants trusted more than others? How did a person know the authenticity of what they were purchasing?
It happened through seals (logos?) that related to the quality, origin, and authenticity of a certain good. These seals started showing up regularly in trade as early as 2250 BCE!
It’s well known that every potter, blacksmith, and bricklayer would mark their works with their own seal. For some professions, like bricklaying, it was the only way to ensure payment and compete with your neighbor for the church in your town! (I know it’s hard to imaging bricklaying being a competitive business. Go spend time looking at old architecture and you’ll see why #gorgeousomg.)
The Term “Brand” and Where it Came From
Now, we’ve been pretty outspoken about this: a “brand” isn’t just a logo. But we’re in 2020. There’s a damn good reason why the term “brand” has lived hundreds of years as synonymous to being a “logo.”
Between the brand, seal, mark (call it what you will, it’s a logo), of an ancient spice trader or an artist and the rise of the actual BRAND, the two terms couldn’t have evolved separately.
You see, the etymology of the word brand, comes from Germanic origins meaning “to burn.”
The term “brand” was coined in the 1400s and it was used to describe a “seal” that was permanently burned into something (like cattle). A brand made it clear who the owner was.
That’s how the term was used until the mid-20th century.
Branding as we know it…
So we know how the logo-centric idea came to be, but what about the parting of “brand” from “logo?”
Well, you started to see the inklings of that waaay back in the mid-1800s… with the boom in marketing and advertising. Weekly publications with advertisements created competition, then TV came along and nationwide publicity was possible. Jingles, logos, slogans, mascots, and snappy copy all held the promise of quality. Competition came in droves – and people started to define their loyalties.
The study of brand loyalty and the question of what makes a brand effective started really popping up in the past 50 years or so – and that makes sense, right? It goes along with the globalization and increase in competition in our world.
A brand takes on its own personality to pull in the type of customer it wants. A business is literally considered a person in the eyes of the law now. Global publicity is possible now. Whole governmental systems are built on capital competition.
So no. Just slapping a logo – branding your name into the side of your product – isn’t enough anymore.
Why a Logo isn’t Enough for a Brand in 2020
In today’s world, just having a logo isn’t enough to stand out in the age of distraction. There is so much to look at and our attention spans are shorter than ever.
That’s not to say they aren’t necessary, they most certainly are.
A logo is a symbol for people to recognize you when they already know who you are.
The evolution of the term “branding” is inevitable, but up until the past 50 years or so a brand was purely an “image.”
We don’t accept that definition. We’re part of the great redefining of what it means to be a “brand” in 2020 – and we’re damn proud of it.
The “Branding” in Dandelion Branding
We define branding as, “the purposeful cohesion between the vision, voice, and values of a business, and how they communicate them to their customers.”
The key word here is, “cohesion.” You’re going to hear this a lot from us because brands need to be cohesive because people want to buy from, and keep buying from, brands that make sense.
Now, we’re not the first people to view branding as a whole picture – but we are one of the only companies focusing on connecting everything your brand puts out back to your brand values.
Since there aren’t a lot of businesses focused on this, we developed a method to help budding brands with their marketing. We call it the Taproot Strategy and we teach you how to use these principles throughout our entire Bloom Your Brand Course.
In 2020, the term “branding” holds the weight of your entire business’s marketing message. The brand you’re creating needs to be rooted in your company’s values and guidelines.
With this strategy not only are decisions easier to make, your content stays cohesive, consistent, and valuable to your ideal customer.
By the way, you’ll also start to see a boost in customer engagement, growth in customer loyalty, improved customer lifetime value, and a decrease in your average acquisition costs!
Just Getting Started?
Branding isn’t just for established businesses.
This is a super common misconception that we’re on a mission to deconstruct.
Defining the values of your new business right away lets you start strong and get stronger as your brand identity blossoms. You’ll find it easier to know what content is necessary to create plus what content is most valuable for your ideal customer.
Brands evolve over time. You need to be ready for things like changes in the market, changes in algorithms, and the fall of popular platforms. The way to do that is to build your community around the centralized values that do not change. Your customers will thank you.
Do you have a brand? Let us know in the comments!
Moore, Karl & Reid, Susan. (2008). The Birth of Brand: 4000 Years of Branding History. Bus History. 4. 10.1080/00076790802106299.