The History Of Branding, Part II

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In my last article, I talked about the first two major waves of branding, back when a brand was the only way to get consistency and quality, and later when brands became “people” – they were associated with characters such as Betty Crocker or Uncle Ben. This second wave created the condition of people identifying with a brand in the way they might identify with a person.

WAVE 3: 1965-1985

During wave 3, a brand became for the first time something that could provide status. Your choice of a brand became a way of saying something about yourself and who you are. If you wore Levi’s jeans or Nike sneakers, or smoked Marlboros, or drove a Volkswagen, it helped identify you and what kind of person you were. You could truthfully say that the brands you used became a statement about who you wanted other people to think you were.

WAVE 4: 1985-2005

In this last wave before the present one, brands became an experience. People anticipated an emotional transformation just by virtue of being engaged with a brand. This is extremely powerful stuff, but the most successful brands achieved it. You didn’t just expect quality or relate to a brand or make a statement about yourself with a brand, you literally changed yourself by engaging with a brand. Does this ring true for you when you think about Apple, Disney, Starbucks or Harley-Davidson?


In my next article we’ll talk about WAVE 5 and the present day, and what brands mean to us now.

Interested in finding out how you can use branding to reach more people and become more successful? Email us at or call us at 646 808 0249 to find out more.