The Brand Is Born: It Started With a Cow and Became a Story

By Patrick Nycz

The first brand was created to differentiate cows. My cows from your cows.  A distinctive, original symbol—or logo—was drawn up and bent into an iron stamp. The iron stamp was heated up and burned into a cow’s ass.

In theory, this is going to hurt you more than me.

In theory, this is going to hurt you more than me.

Voilà! The brand was born.

We could tell my cattle from your cattle. No confusion. It became easier to keep our cattle safe from thieves. It also helped differentiate the livestock when we took them to market.

The local stockyards where I sell my livestock might give me a better price for my cattle over my competitors. Why? Because the folks there know my story and trust that the livestock bearing my brand have been taken care of and are going to get a great return on resale.

In this case, branding a cow is no different than branding a product. Different companies selling similar products, like soap, need something to help differentiate from the “herd.”

A brand becomes a story.

Before the industrial revolution, if you needed soap you’d probably buy it from your local grocery store and it was made by some local guy who had a little soap manufacturing operation in town. I’m sure they made it just like they did in the movie Fight Club. Although he may not have looked like Brad Pitt or Ed Norton, he still made some pretty good soap. He put his soap in a cheap bag, maybe added his name, and sold it to the local stores at a fair price.

I love the smell of industry in the morning!

I love the smell of industry in the morning!

Then along comes the industrial revolution. Mass manufacturing processes made it cheaper to create long runs of product. Railways made it easy for one company to set up a huge soap manufacturing operation and ship product anywhere.

Suddenly, there was less expensive generic soap on the shelves of the local grocery store right next to Brad and Ed’s soap. Although a few people may have tried the new soap, most people still bought Brad and Ed’s soap because, even though they did not know anything about the guys, it was what they had always done.  So why change?

Even back in the day the first marketers knew who to target.

Even back in the day the first marketers knew whom to target.

What did the generic soap manufacturers do? They came up with reasons to help you decide to try their product. They named their soap, developed a logo and created distinctive, attractive packaging that listed the fine features and qualities of their soap and how using it would benefit the user.

They also started advertising to tell the story of their fine product. Maybe the soap produced soft, white and beautiful hands. Or maybe we learned about the highly skilled craftsmen who spent years developing the perfect soap recipe.

In short, they were trying to separate, differentiate and look like a better choice than the local brands like Brad and Ed’s soap. Suddenly, the public had several good reasons to buy the new brand over Brad and Ed’s soap.

It was key that the new brand stuck to their story and told that story over and over in their packaging and advertising so that folks began to recognize the brand, know the story and the develop a perception of the product as they saw it on the shelf.

In short, the new soap brand wrote the story they wanted people to know about them and their product while Brad and Ed did not do anything. By doing nothing, people had their own perceptions about Brad and Ed’s soap and ended up writing their own stories about the local brand…good, bad or ugly.

Don’t leave your brand’s story to chance.

Whether you have a B2B or consumer brand, for over 40 years idc has helped brands take control of their story. We are then typically invited to amplify that story to the audience that most needs to hear it. Please let us know if you have a question about your brand story. 


About the Author: Patrick Nycz is the President and owner of idc, an integrated strategic marketing firm. He and his awesome team are currently writing brand stories for consumer and B2B brands to help grow their companies. He spends his days, among other things, as a business owner, marketing strategist, account exec, cheerleader, salesman and excitable creative. Get connected to Patrick at LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter @PatrickNycz or email him at Also “like” idc on Facebook!
This entry was published on February 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm. It’s filed under advertising, audience, blog, brand, brand affinity, consumer goods, consumer packaged goods, marketing, marketing communications program, new product, packaging, Patrick Nycz, positioning, retail, sales, strategy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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