Business History: The Brand in History

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  • 1. By Nur Suhaili Ramli University of York, UK
  • 2.  Branding become important in the last fifteen to twenty years but historically, it is much more longer than that!  In the nineteenth century, mass produced goods and hand-marked goods were much further produced because of the world events; World War, Industrial Revolution, Suez Canal, World Transport Revolution, Civil Wars, etc.  Branding has developed from property and ownership, origin and content of goods, values and reputations.
  • 3.  Differential developments in packaging and printing technology are part of modern industrial nationhood, that differentiate countries like America, Britain, Japan, Germany and others.  This difference including the different in social, political, economic contexts of each country.  Therefore, the evolution of brand in history is much more longer than expected because of the differences in every part of the world.
  • 4.  According to Mollerup (1997), brand-like marks existed long before industrialization that include monogram, earmarks, ceramic marks, hallmarks, watermarks and furniture marks.  Some of these marks have been traced to Ancient Greece and Rome.  It also indicate the ownership like people making their weapons or early craftsmen marking their products.  It also indicate the origin of goods for example the material used to produce the product, the way it made, the shape, colours, or craft. E.g China, Persian, Rome.
  • 5.  Descriptive marks have been subject to detailed elaboration over time, with rules developing, particular qualities, composition and date of manufactured.  The historical emergence of the brand-like marking of goods was therefore fundamentally related to the expansion of empires.  Different region in the world has different perspective of marks – depending on the empire on the time.  According to Anderson (2000), branding and tattooing were used in South Asia as way of marking convicts and preventing them escaping or passing themselves off as indentured labourers.
  • 6.  During this era, attractive design containers created the demand of the products.  According to Pavitt (2000), many of successful global brands established during this era, such as Heinz, Coca-cola, Levi’s, etc.  The development of packaging was itself a major force in the shift from local agriculture to corporate food production at the turn of century.  The turn of century is again refer to important world events like Industrial Revolution, World War, Long Depression, Transport Revolution, etc.  Therefore, the values around mass-produced brand-name products that began at this time became connected and established.
  • 7.  During the World War, some industries fallen down and some were rose like tin, canned food, coal, and many more.  This had increased the productivity of food industry such as Heinz brand.  Transportation like steamship, and trains were popular to deliver products (goods) in big quantity.  Many important world events during that time were connected and factors for a brand to be known.
  • 8.  According to Moor (2007), brand names and trademarks on packaged goods became central to the ‘Americanization’ by newly arrived immigrations and existing inhabitants living in rural American.  Therefore those brand names were often the most familiar and stable features of a strange new environment.  People were encourage to buy those brands to show loyalty to the country.  Based on this, the brands that made in American has been supported by their people had made the brands became important.
  • 9.  The creation of the Empire Marketing Board, which was set up in 1926 – part of a broader ‘Empire Free Trade Crusade’ – spent huge amounts of money on poster and promotion.  To produce their own forms of imperial propaganda through their advertising and other marketing techniques.  According to McClintock (1995), it is clear that the period from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the Second World War saw a steady flow and concentrated effort on the part of government.  Therefore, we can see many tea, biscuit and tobacco companies displayed various images of national and imperial identity on their packaging.
  • 10.  Both American and British has different approach – on their brands strategies.  In 1930s renewed effort by the British – series of British exhibitions was displayed and promoted.  To locate the essence of Britishness in the pre-industrial past.  In contrast, industrial design in America was developing rapidly during the interwar years, and taking on increasingly futuristic forms.  The changes were important to the development of branding which not only for packaging and advertising but the product itself.
  • 11.  Impact of the Second World War on national economies meant that American was well placed to exert a considerable influence on the direction of industrial development.  Many countries received financial aid from American through Marshall Plan and some German companies were controlled by American capital.  Major Japanese industrialist (e.g. Soichiro Honda, employees of Matsushita and chairman of Hitachi) visited America to study its industrial organization and management techniques.  According to Woodham (1997), many American industrial designers were invited to spend period of time in Japan.  American products (goods) became popular and more successful global brand created from this country.
  • 12.  Anderson, C. (2000), ‘Godna: Inscribing Indian Convicts in the Nineteenth Century’, in Jane Caplan (ed.) Written on the Body: The Tattoo in European and American History, London: Reaktion.  McClintok, A. (1995). Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, New York and London: Routledge.  Moor, L. (2007). The rise of brands. Berg.  Mollerup, P. (1997), Marks of Excellence: The History and Taxonomy of Trademarks, London: Phaidon.  Pavitt, J., ed. (2000), Brand New, London: V&A Publications.  Woodham, J. (1997), Twentieth Century Design, Oxford: OUP.