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Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising.

The word ‘brand’ is often used as a metonym referring to the company that is strongly identified with a brand.

Marque or make are often used to denote a brand of motor vehicle, which may be distinguished from a car model.

Branding was adapted by farmers, potters and traders for use on other types of goods such as pottery and ceramics.

Forms of branding or proto-branding emerged spontaneously and independently throughout Africa, Asia and Europe at different times, depending on local conditions.

The practice of branding is thought to have begun with the ancient Egyptians who were known to have engaged in livestock branding as early as 2,700 BCE.

Branding was used to differentiate one person’s cattle from another's by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot branding iron.

Branding may have been necessary to support the extensive trade in such pots.

For example, 3rd-century Gaulish pots bearing the names of well-known potters and the place of manufacture (such as Attianus of Lezoux, Tetturo of Lezoux and Cinnamus of Vichy) have been found as far away as Essex and Hadrian's Wall in England.

Seals, which acted as quasi-brands, have been found on early Chinese products of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE); large numbers of seals survive from the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley (3,300–1,300 BCE) where the local community depended heavily on trade; cylinder seals came into use in Ur in Mesopotamia in around 3,000 BCE and facilitated the labelling of goods and property; and the use of maker's marks on pottery was commonplace in both ancient Greece and Rome She has shown that amphorae used in Mediterranean trade between 1,500 and 500 BCE exhibited a wide variety of shapes and markings, which consumers used to glean information about the type of goods and the quality.

Systematic use of stamped labels dates from around the fourth century BCE.

In a largely pre-literate society, the shape of the amphora and its pictorial markings conveyed information about the contents, region of origin and even the identity of the producer, which were understood to convey information about product quality.