How Products became Brands.

What therefore originally drove the need for Advertising professionals, was the development of products and then as brands, which had exploded and accelerated in The Industrial Revolution of the 1800’s.

It was during the Industrial Revolution that products became mass produced and therefore, had to be mass marketed.

The mass production of products through mechanisation, meant that in order to sell them, they had to differentiate them and they did that by way of branding.

In order to achieve that mass marketing, products had to distinguish themselves sometimes by product formulations but often by name and promotion. They had to become brands.

Once we had brands, we had to have advertising to promote them. One followed the other.

Brands are a way that manufacturers distinguish their products, catchy advertising, another. And brands create value because people like to buy ‘a brand’ they trust.

The Minnesota Valley Canning Company would have just been another canning factory, without ‘The Jolly Green Giant’ brand of 1935 and developed on TV in 1954 with ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’.

Where would Kentucky Fried Chicken be, without The Colonel?

So it’s brands that powered advertising first.

The Industrial Revolution explosive impact of all of these new innovations and processes meant a surge in new (and initially fairly indistinguishable) products and goods. It also meant a new breed of inventors and innovators.

It was a mind-set shift era too, in an understanding that new wealth could come from product development, innovation and invention. New ways to do old things that were faster and cheaper, made people fabulously wealthy.

That in turn, the search for wealth, spurred the continuous spiral of invention.

That said, these new products had to be brought to the attention of the public so that they could buy them. There was little point in mass production if the products remained unsold.

By 1900, the deluge of products therefore, now required differentiation or ‘branding’, for them. A lot of similar products needed to be identified as being different in their own way.

Something as generic as say, soap, had to differentiate by using a brand, namestyle or logo. But that differentiation often came too, from the way the product was formulated or made.

Pears soap first sold by Andrew Pear in 1807 from Oxford Street London, became the world’s first mass-marketed translucent soap. With seemingly the aroma of an “English garden” it was awarded the prize medal for soap at the Great Exhibition in 1851 (and is made in India today).

It had that product differentiator too, in that it was made from glycerine, kinder on the skin apparently.

So as Ads of the time shows, what better way to explain that skin kindness, than by using a baby in them. It was a mass-produced product, but it had something inherently different to say in its creation.

Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup is often quoted as the first packaged brand and world’s oldest as of course, as ‘sugar refiners. It remains a largely unchanged brand packaging to this day. In 1921 as a merger of two rivals – Henry Tate and Abram Lyle, they were refining 50% of the UK’s sugar and introduced their ‘Mr. Cube’ brand. The sugar lump.

So, a new level of sophistication appeared in the way mass produced products were branded and mass marketed.

Bass & Company, the British brewer founded in 1777, designed a red triangle for its products in 1855, a ‘logo’ and in 1876 registered it as the first ‘trademark’.

Quaker Oats developed ‘The Quaker Man’ (1901).

Coca-Cola was developed by Atlanta pharmacist and Confederate Colonel, John Pemberton in 1886, originally as a tonic and temperance drink, using cocaine and caffeine as syrup.

In 1889 it signed its first bottling agreement. Controversial to this day.

The name came from its ingredients – coca leaves and kola nuts – and the bottle design, was intended to reflect those ingredients and is in fact based on the shape of the cocoa pod, was brought to market in 1920.

Dean’s original bottle design drawing in 1915 is almost identical to today’s.

Their first outdoor Ad appeared in 1894 in Georgia, USA.

Campbell Soups, formed in 1869, produced canned goods which were preferred in these days before domestic refrigeration.

Again through innovation, they had developed a method or new process, for condensing soup and in a red/white livery, invested heavily in branding/advertising in 1898.

The pack design made most famous perhaps by Andy Warhol’s pop art of 1962.

William Wrigley was formed in 1891 and in 1892 started packing chewing gum with baking powder, of all things.

He had started with an idea to sell ‘Wrigley’s scouring soap’ but ‘Juicy Fruit’ and ‘Spearmint gum’ was launched in 1893 and Double Mint in 1914. Brands I worked on through most of my life.

In 1876 John Kellogg produced Cornflakes, largely by accident in a search for a healthy eating product for Sanatorium patients. That cereal brand developed in 1909.

Brands were coming to the fore on the turn of the century.

It is also interesting to note too, that food brands dominated.

Quite simply, people wanted to be more assured about the quality of food they ate. There were a lot of soap or oat producers, so these early brands had seen the promise of brand differentiation through branding, to sell more.

Clear branding meant the buyer would seek them out and buy more of the brand they liked, rather than competitors.

Indeed, with more sophistication, as products tried to stand out, they did so, not by just the use of their brand symbol, but also the shape and style of their packaging, such as the Coca-Cola bottle or the cornflake box.

So, it was the development of brands that was the precursor to Advertising as we know it. Brands having been established, needed promotion following the Industrial Revolution. But The Industrial Revolution also brings with it, a new story of innovation and enterprise. An era of innovation and invention, full of new ideas.

Developing mass produced products and transforming them into brands, goes some way to convincing consumers to buy. What was missing, was the ability to inform these consumers about the new brands.


It was and still is, the first job of Advertising, to inform. To make people firstly aware of the product, the brand.

What was missing from that mix, was the media ecosystem to reach consumers in order to communicate with them. To inform them about the new product and brand.

In other words, there was no real way to create Advertising at any sophisticated level because there was no real media.

Newspapers did exist, in a limited way and fly posting of street posters was prevalent, but the options were limited on the media side. That said this newfound focus on innovation, quickly moved too, into media.

The Industrial Revolution from 1800 to 1900 was a fertile ground of revolutionary thinking.

Once the development of products and brands plateaued, those innovators turned their attention to media.

Advertising needed Media.

But that’s how it all started.

The mass production of products from 1800 to 1900 through new inventions which in turn, then needed to be ‘branded’ to differentiate themselves.