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This article is about brands in marketing. For other uses, see Brand (disambiguation)

, represented by the , is one of the world's most famous brands
McDonald's, represented by the Golden Arches, is one of the world's most famous brands

A brand represents the holistic sum of all information about a product or group of products. This symbolic construct typically consists of a name, identifying mark, logo, visual images or symbols, or mental concepts which distinguishes the product or service. It is useful for the marketer to think of this as a set of aligned expectations in the mind of its stakeholders -- from its consumers, to its distribution channels, to the people and companies who supply the products and services that make up the brand experience. A brand often carries connotations of a product's "promise", the product or service’s point of difference among its competitors which makes it special and unique. Marketers attempt through a brand to give a product a "personality" or an "image". Thus, they hope to "brand", or burn, the image into the consumer's mind; that is, associate the image with the product's quality. Because of this, a brand can form an important element of an advertising theme: it serves as a quick way to show and tell consumers what a supplier has offered to the market.

Well known products acquire brand recognition. When a brand has accumulated a mass of positive sentiment among consumers, marketers say that its owner has acquired brand equity or brand franchise. Brand equity measures the brand's value to the marketer. It is an assessment of the investment a company has made in a brand. Brand franchise measures the effect of this investment on the target market. When enough brand equity is created that the brand has the ability to draw buyers (even without further advertising), it is said to have brand franchise. A brand name comprises that part of a brand consisting of words or letters that humans can verbalize. A brand name that has acquired legal protection becomes a trademark.

Branding has become part of pop culture. Numerous products have a brand identity: from common table salt to designer clothes. Non-commercially, branding can also apply to the marketing of entities which supply ideas or promises rather than goods and services -- such as political parties or religious organizations.

Consumers as a group may look on the brand as an important aspect of a product, and it can also add value to a product or service. It carries the reputation of a product or company. A branded laundry detergent may sell twice as much product as a store-brand detergent. Although the two products may resemble each other closely in almost every other respect, people have learned to regard the branded product as superior. In some cases they believe that because it costs more it offers better quality.

Advertising spokespersons have also became part of some brands, for example: Mr. Whipple of Charmin toilet tissue and Tony the Tiger of Kellogg’s.


Brands have been used as marks of identification at some time in all countries and civilizations. Brands even were applied to humans as recent as 1822 For over 4,000 years, brands have been used for identification on both livestock and humans. Fugitives, galley slaves, gypsies, vagabonds, brawlers, and the clergy have been marked with "symbols of shame" brands down through history. Commercial Brands originated with the 19th-century advent of packaged goods. Industrialization moved the production of many household items, such as soap, from local communities to centralized factories. These factories, cursed with mass-produced goods, needed to sell their products in a wider market, to a customer base familiar only with local goods. It quickly became apparent that a generic package of soap had difficulty competing with familiar, local products. The packaged goods manufacturers needed to convince the market that the public could place just as much trust in the non-local product.

Many brands of that era, such as Uncle Ben's rice and Kellogg's breakfast cereal furnish illustrations of the problem. The manufacturers wanted their products to appear and feel as familiar as the local farmers' produce. From there, with the help of advertising, manufacturers quickly learned to associate other kinds of brand values, such as youthfulness, fun or luxury, with their products. This kickstarted the practice we now know as "branding".

Examples of prominent brand names

The 2001 ranking of the 100 most valuable brands worldwide by Business Week magazine contained 62 American, 30 European, and 6 Japanese brands.

United States




Criticisms of branding

Criticism has been leveled against the concept and implementation of brands, much of it associated with the "antiglobalization" movement. One of the better known criticisms of branding is found in Naomi Klein's book, No Logo. The book claims that corporations' brands serve as structures for corporations to hide behind, and that such global problems as sweatshop labor and environmental degradation have been permitted and exacerbated by branding.

Criticism of branding also comes from within corporations, with some employees becoming frustrated by being limited by overall brand strategies that restrict what they can say, how they say it, and what Pantone colour to say it in. Some shareholders also have concerns about the amount of money invested in branding.

See also


  • Miller & Muir (2004) The Business of Brands, ISBN 0470862599 - Examines how brands can create value for businesses
  • Olins, W (2003) On Brand, London: Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0500511454
  • Schmidt, Klaus; Ludlow,Chris (2002) "Inclusive Branding: The why and how of a holistic approach to brands", Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0333980794
  • Wernick, Andrew (1991) "Promotional Culture: Advertising, Ideology and Symbolic Expression (Theory, Culture & Society S.)", London: Sage Publications Ltd, ISBN 0803983905

External links

Last updated: 06-01-2005 21:20:18
Last updated: 09-02-2005 16:52:30