Every day, we’re exposed to thousands of brand messages. The rise of brands has been phenomenal and unstoppable. Today, branding shapes and defines our world at every level, from the trivial to the profound. The Introduction outlines the aim of this VSI—to suggest some straightforward answers to the big questions. What exactly is a brand? How did branding grow and spread? How do brands work on us? Who are the people behind the brands, and what do they do? Does branding guide or enslave us? And where will branding go next? Branding is not just commercial, it’s also a powerful social, cultural, and—in the widest sense—political force.