From the moment of our birth, to the day of our demise, branding has and will continue to influence our personal and business decisions in ways so subtle that they hardly seem to be noticed. But these subtle brushes with branding do affect us, and when successfully done, will bring about change. Think of the newborn baby whose disposable diapers are referred to as “Pampers”, no matter what manufacturer produced them. Like it or not, branding has become a routine influence on modern daily life. First used as a means of proving ownership on livestock, branding soon was adopted by craftsmen and artisans who realized it was a way to assure buyers of quality and build a following for the goods they produced.
The success of modern branding owes its very lifeblood to a young man named Neil McElroy and the innovative strategies he created for Proctor and Gamble in 1931. McElroy made history by drafting a seven point, three page memo advocating the use of brand managers, or brand men as he called them, and outlining seven specific steps to develop brands and encourage competitive strategies both against competing companies and within a company’s various product lines . McElroy’s Brand Man Memo not only changed Proctor and Gamble, but forever changed the playing field on which the entire game of business is played.
As the success of brand management became apparent, it quickly spread through the business world and over the decades has become a necessary part of every successful business venture. The necessity of brand development and management applies the same concept to both the single player real estate agent and the multi-level corporation with hundreds of locations and thousands of employees. Constantly evolving, branding is now used for much more than just corporations and the products they produce. All types of entities such as universities, musicians, countries, churches and even individuals aggressively market their brand. Once referring to tangible products and organizations, branding now focuses on intangibles such as concepts, ideas, values and access.
Today branding is apparent in everything we see, use and do, both in business and on a personal level. Branding has become a cultural phenomenon, as individuals set out to generate their own personal brands to reflect their own particular styles, beliefs and customs. A totally branded culture is now the norm, not the exception it once was. When heavily influenced by the myriad of socially branded institutions we come into contact with each day, branding serves to bring people together. Every kind of branding, from a love for golf, a political party affiliation or a common religious belief subtly works to bring groups of people together as a real or virtual community sharing the same values, customs and beliefs.