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Brand Bible by Debbie Millman

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 twentieth century, techno-
logical innovations in printing and manufactur-
ing proliferated, and businesses brought a great
number of new products onto the market. As many
Americans left agrarian life to seek their liveli-
hoods in the city, they increasingly purchased
these branded, packaged goods. This created a
huge power shift: Consumers no longer needed
to rely on storekeepers’ opinions for what to buy,
and manufacturers now spoke directly to their
customers by designing packages and labels that
promoted their brands’ quality and consistency.
Businesses realized that the potential to attract
consumers lay not just in creating a product that
would fulll a need, but in creating the need itself.
Enter the era of the brand.
ThE
BEGINNING of
mANUfAcTURER
BRANDS

and
05
B ranD BIBLe
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

From the 1880s onward, the emergence of facto-
ries that could produce seven times more iron
and nine times more paper made mass produc-
tion possible, decreasing prices of such essentials
and the machinery associated with them. Where
companies used to send out packaging to be made
in factories, with new printing processes and high-
production paper-folding or canning machines,
they were able to purchase these massive
machines and bring manufacturing of packaging
and labels in-house. This, in turn, allowed them to
brand large quantities of goods.
1
By creating new products and packages, these
pioneering businesses created a contemporary
language for branding and marketing the items
they produced. The most notable of these manu-
facturers—National Biscuit Company (which
later became Nabisco), Colgate, Procter & Gamble
(P&G), and Johnson & Johnson—would advertise
these products starring the package and label as
“an integral part of the commodity itself,” as early
twentieth-century advertising expert Gerald B.
Wadsworth put it in his 1913 book, Principles and
Practice of Advertising.
2
If the package and label
were integral to the product, then the brand had
become similarly so. The biscuits were no longer
just biscuits. They were Nabisco biscuits—and
the packaging was as much a part of the prod-
ucts identity as the product itself. As a result, the
packaging—even the fact that the container was a
particular size or made of a certain material—fea-
tured prominently in advertisements.


Throughout history, packaging has been a tabula
rasa for creative expression—for communicating a
message, however straightforward (or not), about

Johnson & Johnson
Red Cross Bandages

Crisco was introduced
in an airtight can,
which was opened
with a key. This paper
label was glued onto
the can.
The Beginning of Manufacturer Brands
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
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