A brand is an identifying mark, image, name or concept which distinguishes a product or service. A brand is a symbol created by a marketer to represent a collection of information about a product or group of products. When a brand has accummulated a mass of positive sentiment among consumers, the company is said to have acquired brand equity. A brand name is that part of a brand consisting of words or letters that can be verbalized. A brand name that has been given legal protection is referred to as a trademark.
Originally the word meant anything that was hot or burning; by the European Middle Ages it was commonly used to identify the process of burning a mark into a stock animal so as to identify ownership. Animal branding in the American west has evolved into a complex marking system still in use today.
By the more contemporary definition, a brand means the immaterial attributes attached to a product or a service. Without the brand, Coca-Cola is little more than sugared water; Tide is just another detergent, and Chiquita is a banana just like another.
Brands are central to the debates on intellectual property law, intellectual capital, consumerism and moral purchasing.
Brands were born 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 needed to sell their products nationwide, to a customer base that was only familiar with local goods. It quickly became apparent that a generic package of soap was a hard sell next to the familiar, local product. The packaged goods manufacturers needed to convince the public that their product was just as trustworthy.
This is illustrated by many brands of that era, such as Uncle Ben's rice and Kellogg's breakfast cereal. 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 namesThe 2001 ranking of the 100 most valuable brands worldwide by Business Week magazine contained 62 American, 30 European, and 6 Japanese brands.
Brands (United States):
- Apple (computer)
- Boeing (aerospace)
- Coca-Cola (soft drink)
- Columbia Records (recorded sound - since 1988 owned by Sony)
- Ford Motor Company (automobiles)
- Hershey's (chocolate)
- McDonald's (fast food restaurant)
- Microsoft (software)
- The Gap (clothing)
- BP (petrol - UK)
- Brio (toys)
- Cadbury (chocolate- UK)
- Ferrari (automobile - Italy)
- Ikea (furniture - Sweeden)
- Lego (toys)
- Mercedes-Benz (automobile - Germany)
- Nestlé (food - Switzerland)
- Nokia (cell phones - Finland)
- Orangina (soft drink)
- brand management
- product management
- new product development
- genericized trademark
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Brand (Dutch language for "fire") is a commercial Dutch beer -- see Brand (beer).