Evolutionary branding



Research and theorization on branding is one of the most robust areas of inquiry in both marketing and consumer behavior. The present article advocates a novel source of ideas for use in conceptualizing the origins and functions of branding—the evolution of human capacity for symbolic reasoning and group identity. Drawing on theories of the evolution of human culture, I examine three examples of branding narratives constructed around interpersonal ties gained from commercial DNA testing. The first deals with the human tendency to see the self as part of a group having a unique and attractive history. The second examines humans' desire to reach outward to others seen as having the same traits and values as ourselves. The third deals with the negotiation of identity within a branded community. I propose that the human impulse toward the composition of self- and group-serving narratives underlies the origination and perpetuation of branding. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.