Brands in the field of marketing originated in the 19th century with the advent of packaged goods. Industrialization moved the production of many household items, such as soap, from local communities to centralized factories. When shipping their items, the factories would literally brand their logo or insignia on the barrels used, which is where the term comes from.
These factories, generating mass-produced goods, needed to sell their products to 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.
Around 1900, James Walter Thompson published a house ad explaining trademark advertising. This was an early commercial explanation of what we now know as branding.
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.
Modern branding practices are studied and analyzed at research institutes such as the Zyman Institute of Brand Science at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.