Jargon Genesis: Brand

I find the use of “brand” in a business context to be one of the most logical jargon thefts in our vernacular. The word brand comes from the Norse term brandr, meaning “to burn.” The concept of branding one’s goods, particularly cattle, has existed for centuries.

Fun fact! A “maverick” originally meant an unmarked calf. Samuel Augustus Maverick, a Texan cattle rancher, decided that since all other cattle were branded, he would not brand his. Thus, his brand was none at all.

In the 19th century, with the expansion of packaged goods, the need for brands became evident, and companies picked up the jargon to designate their ownership of a company, a product, a concept, market appeal, etc.

Harley Davidson has been rumored to determine their brand loyalty by the number of branded tattoos found upon the flesh of their fans. I’m grateful that is not an encouraged demonstration of loyalty for all products. It’d be awkward to explain the Cheerios tattoos on young mothers or Apple tattoos on our teenagers. And what about Sensodyne, my favorite toothpaste?