UCL News


UCL in the News: Commodity branding far predates modern capitalism

15 February 2008



In an article entitled "Prehistories of Commodity Branding," study author Dr David Wengrow [UCL Institute of Archaeology] has challenged the common assumption that branding did not become an important force in social and economic life until the Industrial Revolution.

Wengrow has presented convincing evidence that labels on ancient containers, which have long been assumed to be simple identifiers, as well as practices surrounding the production and distribution of commodities, actually functioned as branding strategies. …

According to Wengrow, ancient societies not only imposed strict forms of quality control over these commodities, but as today they needed to convey value to the consumer. …

Although capitalism and branding find in each other a perfect complement, they have distinct origins, Wengrow explained.

He said that branding has for millennia filled a deep-seated need for us humans to find value in the goods that we consume. …