Interesting article at Livescience regarding trademarks and brand marketing. The first modern registered trademark was for British brewery Bass Ale, which trademarked their red triangle brand logo in 1777.
"Brand names, we assume, are a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. As goods started to roll off the factory line in large numbers, manufactures had to find a way to reassure customers that their cookie-cutter products were just as good, if not better, than hand-crafted items.
And so we got the "science" of marketing. Stamp those goods with a simple symbol — the British Bass Ale red triangle was the first registered trademark in 1777 — and then flash that symbol all over town until it's imprinted on everyone's brain. The idea is that familiarity breeds trust, and that people quickly associate a familiar trademark with value."
However, branding goes back much further in time, to almost the beginnnings of civilization. The jars sent throughout the world of classical Mediterranean civilization were often sealed with a bit of wax or other substance marked with a notweworthy design - a brand, which denoted the producers, the grade or contents. Containers so sealed extend back to 70000 BC in Mesopotamia.
Pretty interesting stuff.