A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that distinguishes one seller’s good or service from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising for recognition and, importantly, to create and store value as brand equity for the object identified, to the benefit of the brand’s customers, its owners and shareholders. Brand names are sometimes distinguished from generic or store brands.
The practice of branding – in the original literal sense of marking by burning – is thought to have begun with the ancient Egyptians, who are known to have engaged in livestock branding as early as 2,700 BCE.[need quotation to verify] Branding was used to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot branding iron. If a person stole any of the cattle, anyone else who saw the symbol could deduce the actual owner. The term has been extended to mean a strategic personality for a product or company, so that “brand” now suggests the values and promises that a consumer may perceive and buy into. It includes the voice and the tonality of the business. Over time, the practice of branding objects extended to a broader range of packaging and goods offered for sale including oil, wine, cosmetics, and fish sauce and, in the 21st century, extends even further into services (such as legal, financial and medical), political parties and people (e.g. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry). Branding in terms of painting a cow with symbols or colors at flea markets was considered to be one of the oldest forms of the practice.