however millions of farm animals over the centuries would attest to its effectiveness. The original of the word “brand” is in old Norse—the language of ancient Scandinavia. It means “to burn.” It was a good idea in Scandinavia to burn an identifying mark into the rump of your livestock, because the cattle had to roam about to find enough food, and anyhow, building fences was a lot of work.
Brands were originally a way to identify property and to distinguish it from everyone else’s property. They still identify property, but not always in the way they used to. The old way was like nametags on your clothes.
When I went to school, it was a requirement that my uniform (yes, we wore uniforms) was labeled. That was like a brand in the original sense. It told people whose clothes were left lying around in the locker room.
And there was another sign on some of my school clothes: a badge. The school badge was also a brand, because it identified me as belonging to that particular school. In fact, it did something else: it also identified my school and differentiated it from other schools. So from the age of about six, I was branded. Marked, you might say.
The American Marketing Association has a definition of a brand. It goes like this:
A brand is a ‘name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination ...