These ancient societies imposed strict forms of quality control over commodities, and also needed to convey value to the consumer through branding.
Producers began by attaching simple stone seals to products which, over time, were transformed into clay seals bearing impressed images, often associated with the producer's personal identity thus giving the product a personality.
A vase created in around 490 BCE bears the inscription “Sophilos painted me” indicating that the object was both fabricated and painted by a single potter.
Branding may have been necessary to support the extensive trade in such pots.
In ancient Rome, a commercial brand or inscription applied to objects offered for sale, was known as a titulus pictus.
The inscription typically specified information such as place of origin, destination, type of product and occasionally quality claims or the name of the manufacturer.
Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.
The inscription which reads "G(ari) F(los) SCO(mbri) SCAURI EX OFFI(CI)NA SCAURI" has been translated as "The flower of garum, made of the mackerel, a product of Scaurus, from the shop of Scaurus" One merchant who made good use of the titulus pictus was Umbricius Scauras, a manufacturer of fish sauce (also known as garum) in Pompeii, circa 35 CE.
Brand owners manage their brands carefully to create shareholder value, and brand valuation is an important management technique that ascribes a money value to a brand, and allows marketing investment to be managed (e.g.: prioritized across a portfolio of brands) to maximize shareholder value.
Although only acquired brands appear on a company's balance sheet, the notion of putting a value on a brand forces marketing leaders to be focused on long term stewardship of the brand and managing for value.
Not all historians agree that these markings are comparable with modern brands or labels, with some suggesting that the early pictorial brands or simple thumbprints used in pottery should be termed proto-brands.
Archaeological evidence of potters' stamps has been found across the breadth of the Roman Empire and in ancient Greece.