The History Of Branding, Part I

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In order to understand the importance of branding and why you need it, let’s take a quick look at the history of Branding. There are 5 Waves in this history; we are currently in the middle of Wave 5. Each wave has something to teach us, and their elements are all still essential.

The Trademarks Registration Act was passed in the U.S. on Jan 1, 1876. The first brand registered in the U.S. was by a British Company: Bass Ale.

WAVE 1: 1875-1920
Brands guaranteed Quality & Consistency. At that time, we bought our goods locally, and packaged products signified “Premium”.

You bought a brand because it was consistently good, and because it was safe. This still holds true. The brands of this wave included Ivory Soap, Campbells Soup, and Quaker Oats. The media of the era was at first Print, and then Radio.

WAVE 2: 1920-1965
We went from Radio to TV in this wave. It became the Gold Rush of Branding, and it was when “Brands become anthropomorphized”. It was the age of Character Endorsed Brands: Betty Crocker, Uncle Ben’s, and the Morton Salt Girl.

None of these were real people, though much of the population believed they were, but you could relate to and project onto a character, and the associations you had with the product became the associations you had with the character. Think “Snap, Crackle and Pop”, the 3 characters on a Rice Krispies box.


Essentially, Wave 1 was functional, and Wave 2 was emotional. These are still extremely important characteristics of a good brand. We’ll continue in the next article with Wave 3, when brands became an experience.