Brief History of Branding

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by: Karl Long

I recently had the distinct pleasure of being asked to speak to a group of industrial design students at the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale. The class they were taking was an elective class and the topic was product branding. Anyway, the topic of branding is wide open and I guess I could have talked about anything, but I decided to talk about the origin of modern branding as a discipline.

My argument is that modern branding as a discipline is only 50+ years old, and that almost all the theories and methodologies regarding branding are derived from that period. This means that nothing is set in stone, and in fact it’s quite likely that branding as a discipline is still in the “flat earth” stage.

So what was my purpose? Well, I guess i just wanted these students to have enough context and ammunition to at least have the option to think critically about brands and branding.

BTW if you think I’m just being snarky to the old school branding folks, you should bare in mind that Wally Olins, who is somewhat a godfather of modern branding was my biggest influence here, and it’s his model of brand experience that I continue to use when thinking about customer experience.

Here’s the presentation in PDF format

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