Brief History of Promotional Product Branding

A business is only as memorable as its brand. In order to make your organisation distinct from others in your industry, you must establish a strong brand using a combination of name, logo, catchphrase, and design elements.

Branding is means of establishing your identification so that your consumer base recognises who you are and what you do with ease. A great example would be the world-renowned Australian brand “Speedos”. Most people would think of this brand when in the market for a swimsuit as it has been successful in etching itself in the minds of consumers for decades. "Speedos" are synonymous with swimsuits just as "Hoovers" are synonymous with vacuum cleaners. This is the kind of brand establishment companies aim for with their carefully calculated promotional campaigns.

Branding History


Ironically, the term “brand” was derived from “brandr”, an Old Norse word which means “to burn”. It was actually referring to a practice wherein producers burn their product with their name or marking. This practice was later on adopted by cattle producers, who brand their cattle using hot iron to differentiate them from the other cattle.

Branding goes back to the Vedic period wherein the oldest known generic brand, the herbal paste Chyawanprash, existed. By the time the 1200’s rolled in, Italians were involved in branding in the form of watermarks.

In mass marketing, brands were only introduced in the 19th century with the advent of packaging goods. Companies then used to brand their insignia or logo on the shipping barrels. This practice gave rise to the term “trademark” which is being used alternately with brand today. It is not surprising that branding became vital as competition among businesses became tougher.

Birth of Branding

Initially, products were branded with simply the name of the manufacturer, origin of the product and serial number. But quickly, companies realized that consumers are becoming loyal to products which are familiar to them and whose manufacturer they trust. Companies began to focus on being consistent with their product labels, using recognizable logos or design.

By the 1950’s, branding was no longer confined to just the product itself but extended to other media such as print and television. Eventually, branding evolved into advertising, which became a major source of entertainment for consumers.

Today’s Brand

Never has branding become so important for companies than today. With easy access to information offered by the internet, consumers can easily spot a brand based on a colour scheme or even a jingle. Brands are constantly and continuously being exposed! Experts even believe that as much as 50 percent of a business’ value depends in its brand.  There fore branding on promotional items really makes sense as a marketing tool to constantly remind your customers about what you do and who you are as a company.

Most Popular Brands in 2012

To illustrate how important branding is to companies, here is the list of the most popular Australian brands based on brand value as compiled by Brand Finance.

  • Woolworths – US$7.2 B


  • Telstra – US$ 5.2 B


  • Coles – US$4.8 B


  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia – US$4.2 B


  • National Australia Bank – US$ 4.1 B


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