What is Branding?

What is Branding?

What is Branding?

At the textbook level, branding is defined as: “a name, term, design, or symbol that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.” This definition is correct but doesn’t tell the full story.

July 14, 2023

Words by Marbury Team

Photo by Daniel Farò

Most people are familiar with the word branding but may need help articulating its meaning. Today, we’re returning to the basics to define branding and clarify its role in your business. Whether you’re a seasoned industry leader with a firm grasp of the topic or an emerging entrepreneur, we encourage you to remain open. Our aim is to provide you with expert insights to broaden your perspective. 

So, what is branding? 

At the textbook level, branding is defined as: “a name, term, design, or symbol that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.” (American Marking Association) 

This definition provides a strong overview but fails to reveal branding’s role in the grand scheme of business. Without contextualizing the purpose of branding, we’re left with a two-dimensional framework for its existence. This leads to undervaluing our brand or, worse, neglecting it altogether. 

To truly answer the question, “What is branding?” we have to pull back and observe how it affects our businesses holistically. When we do this, we end up with a reimagined perspective on the word. Here’s how we define branding at Marbury.

Branding: a name, term, design, or symbol that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.


1. Branding is a curation of physical and emotional cues that prime your audience to purchase.

Branding is as much a science as it is an art. As brand strategists, we blend human psychology with design theory to create a visual experience that stirs an emotional reaction from target buyers. Small things like the language used in your messaging, your primary colors, and the flow of your type suite contribute to the feeling your brand evokes. Our responsibility is to discern what makes your audience tick.

We do this by first nailing down who your target audience is. This can be determined by looking at your current clientele, the leads you naturally attract, and who you enjoy working with—your ideal client will usually land at the intersection of these three things. Once that’s established, we identify the buying persona of each client profile. What are their core desires? What motivates them to buy? What benefits do they look for in an interior designer? 

If we can answer these questions, we can get inside your audience’s mind and speak directly to them through your branding. Achieving this level of resonance can expand your reach, boost engagement, and drive sales. This makes branding an essential vehicle for your company’s success and a powerful compliment to your marketing efforts. 


3. Branding is your visual identity.

Stripping back to the foundations, branding is what your audience sees. It is the visual representation of your company’s essence and often the first thing people interact with. At an elementary level, it is made up of your logo, wordmark, submark, color story, typography, illustrations, digital collateral, and print collateral. It is the outward expression of what you stand for, who you serve, and what story you want to tell. 


3. Branding is not what you say but how you say it.

No matter how deeply we believe in the originality of our message, there will always be someone with something similar to say. This crossover of values is unavoidable in every industry, but especially in interior design. As a creative, you’re driven by the same passion for quality, intention, beauty, and functionality that your peers are. These values shape the culture of design. 

The difference between their message and yours is the tone of voice, personal perspective, and intended emotions it elicits. It’s not what you say but how you say it. The slightest shift in tone makes a world of difference in the minds of consumers. Here’s an example:


Nike Mission Statement:

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

Adidas Mission Statement:

“Athletes don’t settle for average and neither do we. We have a clear mission: to be the best sports brand in the world.”


When pared down, each brand is saying the same thing—they want to be the favorite supplier of athletics/sports goods. However, both brands communicate this mission differently. Nike’s tone is straightforward and confidently humble, centering its mission around its audience rather than itself. Adidas takes a bolder approach in its statement, relating itself to its audience but ultimately centering its mission around its own ambition.

These two examples illustrate the importance of well-branded messaging and how it impacts the way you’re perceived. 


4. Branding is your legacy

There’s a very blunt but impactful quote by ads agency founder Jim Mullen that captures this sentiment well. It goes like this:

Of all the things your company owns, brands are far and away the most important and the toughest.

Founders die. Factories burn down. Machinery wears out. Inventories get depleted. Technology becomes obsolete. 

Brand loyalty is the only sound foundation on which business leaders can build enduring, profitable growth.”

While bleak, this quote is undoubtedly true. Name brands like Bloomingdale’s, Johnson & Johnson, or Abercrombie & Fitch have all outlived their founders by over a century. In the time between now and their conception, there have likely been hundreds (if not thousands) of internal challenges. Yet, with a vision at their helm, their brands have survived through every decade.

This is what we seek to achieve through the brands we create. We’re not just designing for the present but for the future. Why? Because your story deserves to last. 

If you’re curious to learn more about our legacy-driven brand process, we encourage you to start a conversation. Together, we will determine which of Marbury’s offers are right for you in this season. Click here to inquire.

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