In advertising, branding is the extension of a name beyond any one kind of product. Nike doesn't sell shoes, it sells the Nike brand. You can pay for the privilege of advertising their brand on just about any piece of clothing you could imagine. Some people actually take the meaning of branding one step further and get tattoos or actual burn scars in the shape of a swoosh.

Branding strategies include sponsoring art (as Absolut vodka does), buying the right to name sports stadiums (as many companies have done), and even -- in a recent example -- sponsoring private weddings. The general idea is to make your brand popular enough that it doesn't matter what you sell, it only matters that your brand is on it. Just ask Disney, whose brand includes everything from theme parks and cartoons to underwear and toys, and even a whole city: Celebration, Florida.

Frankly, I prefer the old meaning of "branding". Shoving red-hot chunks of metal into someone's flesh is painful, yes, but the pain goes away. The wounds caused by advertising never heal.