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Brand Identity & Design for Interior Designers with Corey Fuller

April 26, 202439 min read

Brand identity helps ensure you’ve got enough of the right-fit clients coming in the door as an interior designer. When we talk about branding, we typically only think of logos—but what else do you need to create a brand personality? How much can you expect to pay a branding expert? And how do you know if your branding is working? Well, get your Notes app out because Corey Fuller is back with us to tackle the topic of branding!

The last time Corey was on the show, we talked about the importance of branding. But this time around, we’re discussing brand identity as a whole. Corey shared about everything from hiring branding specialists to brand audits to rebrands to things that get missed when creating a brand—all through the lens specifically of interior design firms. Be sure to stay for The Coaching Corner at the end of the conversation! Now, let’s listen to the conversation.


In this episode, we cover:

  • What is branding and brand identity

  • How designers should approach creating their brand identity

  • If you have to hire someone to create your brand identity

  • What deliverables and investment you can expect when working with a branding specialist

  • How to best capture the intangible elements of a brand like brand voice

  • How to know it’s time to rebrand or if your branding is working

  • Ways to conduct your own brand identity audit

  • What gets missed the most when creating a brand identity

Does this conversation have you thinking about branding (or rebranding) your design firm? Corey and I would love to hear! Be sure to connect with us on Instagram!

More about Corey Fuller

Corey Fuller earned his Master of Fine Arts in Design from the University of Central Oklahoma. He currently teaches at Oklahoma Baptist University, where he serves as chair of the Division of Art & Design and holds the Ruth Jay Odom Professorship in Fine Arts. 

Links and Mentioned Resources

Interactive Guide: Branding Blueprint

Coaching Strategy Session

The Importance of Branding for Interior Designers with Corey Fuller

How to Improve Company Culture with Josh Dykstra

House Industries

Target Audience Personas and Marketing with Bill Gelgota

Interior Designers Pricing and Project Estimation with Michelle Lynne Pant

Connect with Corey Fuller



This episode is brought to you by Nello Marelli

Struggling to stay ahead with the ever-evolving design trends while running your business? Discover the secret weapon of the design world - the 2025 Nel Colore Color Trend Book. Crafted by the renowned Italian designer Nello Morelli, whose expertise guides luxury brands from Milan to Paris, this tool is now stateside with our partnership. Get exclusive access to future color trends, combinations, and sociological insights up to two years in advance, ensuring your designs stand out. Elevate your projects and leave the trend-watching to us. Find the Nel Colore Color Trend Book, along with a mini version, exclusively in The Studio. 

Connect with Katie Decker-Erickson

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More about Colorful Conversations with Katie

Welcome to “Colorful Conversations with Katie”! Join us for a vibrant webcast where we seamlessly blend the realms of design and business in a fun and professional setting. Available on YouTube or any of your favorite podcast platforms!

Hosted by the dynamic Katie, a seasoned expert with nearly 20 years of experience in both fields, this engaging series promises to ignite your creative spark and sharpen your entrepreneurial acumen. From exploring the latest design trends to uncovering strategies for building successful ventures, we dive deep into the colorful world where aesthetics meet profitability.

Whether you’re a budding designer or a savvy entrepreneur, this webcast is your go-to source for inspiration, insights, and a dash of lively conversation. Tune in and let your imagination, business and life take flight!

This post may contain affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on my site at no additional cost to you. 

This episode of Colorful Conversations with Katie is brought to you in partnership with Leah Bryant Co.

The unedited podcast transcript for this episode of the Colorful Conversations with Katie podcast follows

Katie (00:01.538)

Hey, Corey, welcome back to the show.

Corey Fuller (00:03.754)

Hi, Katie, it's good to be back. Thank you.

Katie (00:05.682)

It is so good to have you back. I call them repeat offenders, but we love repeat offenders. We brought you back because we had such a great conversation last time about branding and logos and all that. And this time we wanted to hone in on when do we need to rebrand? What is branding in totality and just expand the conversation in a new and ways that we just didn't get to talk about last time. I didn't feel like we got through it all. So welcome back.

Corey Fuller (00:30.614)

Yeah, thank you very much. It's good to be back.

Katie (00:33.598)

It's great. Okay. So when we talk branding, we're usually talking about a logo. Like we had a conversation about in our last, which we'll put in the show notes. You can go watch the last episode. So you have a context for it. But I want to talk about branding is so much more than that. And if you're just starting a business or even if you've been in business for a while, most people just think of branding. I've got a logo. I've got a tagline. Okay. I'm good. But it's so much more. How much more?

Corey Fuller (00:53.582)


Well, it's your whole brand identity. So that has to do with your typefaces, your style of photography, your color palette, the voice that you use when you advertise. So it's kind of the totality of who you are. It's like your brand personality all put together.

Katie (01:13.786)

How do you think in the world of interior design, we should approach identifying our brand identity? And do you have to have your mission statement, your values and all that lined out before you go create your brand identity?

Corey Fuller (01:27.746)

So I do think those things are helpful. I think one of the things you would need to look at is how big or small is our shop right now. I think one thing that's tough, if you're a single person starting out, you have to have a way of having self-awareness. And I always, I talk to students about the story of Corduroy, the little bear, and he...

Katie (01:43.786)


Katie (01:50.267)

I love corduroy.

Corey Fuller (01:51.742)

Me too, I read that story to my kids, but he's lost his button, but he's unaware, he's oblivious to the fact that he's lost his button. And so the little girl that picks him out, that chooses him, she chooses him with that knowledge, but then she decides to fix his button for him. And I think that's the kind of self-awareness we need about our image.

Katie (01:54.187)


Katie (02:00.3)


Katie (02:08.59)


Corey Fuller (02:13.786)

is that there may be something, it's not necessarily a flaw, it's just something distinctive that maybe we're not aware of that we kind of need other people to help us with. And so, you know, if you're branding all alone, you might get a group of friends and trusted colleagues together to say, help me identify who I am as this new entity, as this company. If you have a team of people, then I think, yeah, developing some values and a mission is abundantly helpful.

Katie (02:13.835)


Katie (02:19.567)



Katie (02:40.234)

Well, and to your point about corduroy, it was super sweet when my girls were little. When my second one was born, the first one had her corduroy and it was her most valuable thing. And she called it Deedee. She goes, I'm going to give Deedee to my little sister because she doesn't have any stuffies. It was like one of the most endearing parental moments. But in thinking about that analogy, because it's such a powerful one, I think there's also value.

Corey Fuller (02:48.575)


Corey Fuller (02:57.046)

That's sweet. Yeah.

Katie (03:06.314)

Obviously from the book's perspective, it wasn't about the missing button, but in the world of marketing, your missing button can be your differentiator from the competition. And don't be afraid to embrace the missing button.

Corey Fuller (03:17.222)

Right, yeah, so it's interesting to go back to the story. The little girl has no problem with the missing button, but the mom points out, this, he's missing a button. That seems like a problem. I don't want to buy a flawed toy. Yeah, yeah, it makes total sense. But yeah, I think we all have those things that.

Katie (03:20.939)


Katie (03:26.38)


flawed bear brand new off the shelf. Any mom gets this, yes, yes. Right?

Corey Fuller (03:38.378)

you know, or perhaps off-putting. But we do have kind of those things that make us unique in a special way, in a good and positive way, and kind of leveraging those. And that's a hard thing to get through in a website or in social media.

Katie (03:46.01)


Katie (03:52.014)


Hmm. So let me ask you, do you have to hire someone when you're creating your brand identity? I mean, like you said, you can pull a group of trusted people around you, but I feel like sometimes even then we sometimes just have to hear the hard truth. And sitting here in the depths of my mid forties, if we can call it that, I'm okay with that. But it took decades to get there, right? Is it worth hiring?

Corey Fuller (04:16.415)


Corey Fuller (04:20.523)


Katie (04:23.53)

And what if I'm just starting out and maybe don't have the resources to do it? Do I need to hire someone to help me with brand identity? Or is this something that can evolve organically over time? Or do I risk missing out on potential clients while I'm waiting for this develop to develop?

Corey Fuller (04:38.642)

Right. I think if you have the means to, I would hire someone to help you hire a professional because they're able to take a step outside, look at you, look at your company, look at what you're trying to accomplish in an objective sort of way. It's hard to know ourselves, you know, much less think about how do we brand ourselves and communicate. So yeah, having somebody that can step outside, ask the right questions, help us understand ourselves, I think can be really,

Katie (04:51.948)


Corey Fuller (05:08.776)

you want to want to go the cheap route on or say we'll kind of figure it out as we go I think you really want to establish that brand early I think it's really critical.

Katie (05:16.894)

because I think it helps you attract the right client. And I want to get to that in one minute, but like, okay, so it's going to cost me money. How much is fair to pay and what should you expect as the deliverables when you reach out to a professional about brand and brand identity?

Corey Fuller (05:19.158)

That's right.

Corey Fuller (05:34.322)

Okay, yeah, so let me address the deliverables first. There are the assets as far as the logo. So you want to get a good vector of your logo. We talked a little bit about that last time. So that logo file as a vector, as a PDF, as a PNG probably, all the conceivable formats.

Katie (05:47.436)


Katie (05:55.95)

Grayscale, Watermark, get it all, yeah.

Corey Fuller (05:58.022)

Yes, but kind of another layer in your style guide is to address your typography and your color palette and also kind of some do's and don'ts in the style guide as well. That can be really helpful. Sometimes it's what you what you don't do that matters. So yeah.

Katie (06:06.222)


Katie (06:09.996)


Katie (06:14.794)

Right? Well, like, I mean, I think about a Louis Vuitton purse. Louis Vuitton never cuts the Louis Vuitton logo on a real Louis Vuitton purse. Right? That's part of their brand. If you don't want your logo cut or chunks of your logo, this is the time to figure that out. Our logo will always be shown in totality, simple things like that. Cause as you grow and you bring other people on, they're not going to know that unless it's delineated. How about voice though? Like how do you put

Corey Fuller (06:24.183)


Corey Fuller (06:31.464)


Corey Fuller (06:35.967)

Right. Yeah.

Katie (06:40.098)

voice into the style guide or how do you capture those more intangible elements of brand identity?

Corey Fuller (06:45.906)

Mm-hmm. So I think if you're doing a rebrand, it's actually a little bit easier because then you kind of have a history. And so if you don't have a history, I think you're trying to develop a story of some kind.

Katie (06:52.566)


Katie (06:58.55)


Corey Fuller (06:58.83)

that's meaningful, that's unique, that people can connect to. And so almost thinking about it in terms of a conversation, like if I were to sit down with somebody, what would I want to tell them about my business? What would I want to tell them about my background? The unique way that I do business and why they should choose me over somebody else. So if you could sit down and kind of jot that down almost like a profile and think about how do I communicate that through that voice, I think that can be really helpful. But I think oftentimes we just don't think about it.

think about the importance of communicating that.

Katie (07:31.322)

Well, and this takes me back to Josh Allen Dijkstra's episode. It feels more like something that happens to us rather than intentionally doing it, but either way it's going to happen. Your company is going to develop a voice. You might as well be at the outset of it, like with culture and setting their trajectory of how you want that to go, because it does come back to the ideal client. But I, is this going to take thousands of dollars? Does this, I mean tens of thousands of dollars, what is a fair expectation? Obviously a,

Corey Fuller (07:40.586)

Yes, yeah.

Katie (08:01.046)

Rebrand for a large firm is going to be completely different I want to say like Coke and Pepsi are spending millions on branding Right and here we are sitting here and going. Okay, what actually is fair? Too cheap is too cheap and you're not gonna get your deliverables Like what do you like give us is there a window and I really some of this is geographical too Depending on where you're in the country like LA New York You're gonna pay more than you're gonna play sitting in the heart of Oklahoma

Corey Fuller (08:06.698)

Right, yeah.

Corey Fuller (08:21.055)


Corey Fuller (08:26.738)

Yeah, right. I'm glad you brought that up. It is very geographical. Also, if you have someone fairly early in their career, they may not know how good they are and they have really reasonable rates. Not that we would want to...

Katie (08:38.01)

and that's a good person to find.

Corey Fuller (08:39.926)

Yeah, not that we would want to take advantage of that person. But so from my, I'll tell you from my perspective as a designer, how I would tend to price something. So it kind of depends on like what the client is wanting. So if they're okay, me pitching one idea, like one look, and it's a yes or no, which some designers and some clients actually like that. Then it's sort of building an estimate on that one look, which could be 500, it could be 1,000. I mean, people charge $100,000.

Katie (08:43.075)


Katie (08:49.068)


Corey Fuller (09:09.9)

know sometimes for an identity system it is amazing. I don't charge those rates. Of course I'm in the middle of the country. But you know sometimes clients might say I want to have you know three to five looks and you can price those accordingly. And then you're sort of going through this funnel of saying well we like this let's take that to the next level we'll look at some colors. I tend to design everything in black and white initially just to make sure the logo functions well in one color. And then we'll go in and add some colors.

Katie (09:10.426)

It's amazing.

Katie (09:17.431)


Katie (09:34.746)

Hmm. That's interesting. Yeah, that makes sense.

Corey Fuller (09:39.86)

Yeah, even though I feel like color is really important to a brand, I want it to make sure it functions in one color. So Steve Jobs, when he had Paul Rand design a logo for his company, Next, Paul Rand charged $100,000. Take it or leave it. If you like it, great. If you don't like it, you're still going to pay me $100,000.

Katie (09:52.056)


Katie (09:58.038)

Ooh, talk about unapologetic. Oh, we talk about unapologetic.

Katie (10:06.531)


Corey Fuller (10:06.555)

So next was the computer company that Steve Jobs founded when he got fired from Apple.

So anyway, so that's some audacity to charge that much, but there is a lot of subjectivity to it. But also your logo is rather invaluable to you once you have it sort of employed and it's working for you. So yeah, I mean, geography plays a huge part in it. The sort of the level of confidence and the portfolio of the designer plays a huge part of it as well. So I mean, yeah, anywhere between $510,000, I think would be expected

Katie (10:30.83)


Sure. Yeah, there's a lot of variables.

Katie (10:41.954)

depending on the scope? Yeah. And where you're at. Okay, so we have talked about like in this series about the importance of defining your target market, understanding your persona that you're going after. Once you have that nailed down, how do you bridge the gap between your brand identity and appealing to that persona? Because sometimes I am amazed at the disconnect, and these are large corporations have.

Corey Fuller (10:42.404)

perhaps, depending on the scope, yeah.

Katie (11:10.658)

between their target persona and their actual brand identity. I'm like, you're never going to attract a high end client with that brand identity. So how do you design for that? Like what as designers should we know about giving you feedback on a brand identity to make sure we're getting this right?

Corey Fuller (11:19.659)


Corey Fuller (11:32.322)


Yeah, so I think there are probably two different philosophies on that. So I think one philosophy would be we want to create a logo and an identity that is targeted to the smallest viable audience. Like a really, really targeted audience that can still keep us in business, but it's very niche. And so if you're going that route, I think you can make a really specific identity. The other philosophy would be our identity really should be pretty neutral, should be transcendent through a lot of different times and trends.

Katie (11:37.913)


Katie (11:47.322)


Katie (11:51.144)

Mm. Mm-hmm.

Corey Fuller (12:04.916)

But in our marketing materials, then we can kind of tailor that to target different audiences. So those are probably two different philosophies. I think people that are starting out don't really feel like they have the ability to say no to a whole lot of people. So like they've got to take on a lot of jobs, even the ones that they don't. So I think having a general identity can be helpful when you're starting out. However, I don't want to say generic. There are a lot of people that employ a generic identity. So they pick their initials.

Katie (12:18.992)

Mm-hmm, fair.


Katie (12:28.352)


Corey Fuller (12:34.756)

put them in a circle and they say that's her identity. I've seen so many logos that are just letters in a circle and people, yes, it's a monogram. There's no differentiation there. You know, and another thing I would guard against, back to your question about pricing, I mean there are tons of people on the internet that are saying, I'll design you a five dollar logo. Well, they're leveraging, oh, there are websites, yeah, design contests and things.

Katie (12:37.941)

Yes. It's a monogram.

Katie (12:55.37)

Oh my gosh, there's entire websites devoted to this. It breaks my heart.

Corey Fuller (13:01.214)

Yeah, but they're leveraging clip art and they're going to create something that's ultimately generic and not meaningful to you as a person or as a brand. So yeah, I really, really try to guard against that. However, back to those two philosophies, I think both can be really successful.

Starting out you may need to be a little bit more general. And as you work you say, this is really my work. There's a company called House Industries and they started out just as a general graphic design firm. And their specialty became designing typefaces. Well then they said, what if we lean heavy into that? And now they are basically a type foundry. So they sort of found their way into something kind of niche, but they started general. And I think that's oftentimes the way that it goes.

Katie (13:26.528)


Katie (13:30.126)


Katie (13:33.568)


Katie (13:38.658)


Katie (13:45.718)

That was our experience as a company. I mean, we started out in residential design, very standard issue. I mean, it was exterior residential design and color. So we were a little bit niched out, but then we just found ourselves migrating more and more and more into the commercial until we could really niche out. And I know the last round of local revisions you did for us, like, you know our target market. We've been hanging out there now for about 15 years.

it hasn't changed because we could drill down on that. And I think that's a point that's really well made is you really had a nugget in there when you said there's a difference between general and generic, and you can be general, especially starting without being generic. That's a great nugget, Corey.

Corey Fuller (14:22.593)


Corey Fuller (14:29.806)

things. I think that's really important to not get lost in the crowd early on.

Katie (14:35.566)

for sure and I think to differentiate from competitors because even though you may be going for a more general audience, you're still gonna have competition that you need to set yourself apart from. Who's using that gorgeous little monogram? We see a lot of that in the design world, the interior design world. And so being able to set yourself apart from them is important while still keeping a broad appeal in your audience. And like we always say, if you're trying to be everything to everyone, you're nothing to no one. So we're not saying just open this up.

Corey Fuller (14:48.658)


Corey Fuller (15:03.135)


Katie (15:04.866)

willy-nilly, but yeah understand who you are and who you appeal to. For the firms that have been in business for a hot minute, how do you think they go about knowing that they need to rebrand? How do you check in on that?

Corey Fuller (15:08.835)


Corey Fuller (15:22.442)

Yeah, I mean, I think if you feel like you're... Yeah.

Katie (15:24.442)

Because we're going to grow, right? Like new services, new offerings. How do we make sure our logo is keeping pace with us? We want it to work as hard, to your point. It should be ubiquitous with who we are. We want it to work as hard as we are. How do you know when it's not?

Corey Fuller (15:37.17)

Yeah. So I think one thing we would need to think through, just because it's stale to us, doesn't necessarily mean it's stale to our clients and our customers. So, and I think designers, and I would put interior designers and graphic designers into this category, we get tired of our own website and our own brand really quickly. So, yeah. Yeah.

Katie (15:45.403)

Oh, that's a good perspective.

Katie (15:57.79)

Yeah, we might be slightly visual people with a short attention span sometimes. Yeah.

Corey Fuller (16:02.47)

Yeah, so it's hard for us to commit to a logo, and it's hard for us to keep it for a long time once we do commit to it. So, you know, I think having some self-awareness about that and, you know, asking your customer.

Katie (16:09.208)


Corey Fuller (16:14.826)

you know, is there anything that's maybe off putting about our logo? I mean, you'd have to have that really, that really, you know, honest customer, probably your client to tell you that this, does this look stale? Does this evoke something that's, that's negative? Um, but yeah, I think before we dive in, we need to ask ourselves like, am I the only one that's thinking this way? Um, and you know, last time we talked about, if you feel like there is a big shift in your business model, like. Maybe you've, you've changed your personnel.

Katie (16:22.938)


Katie (16:30.173)


Katie (16:35.936)


Corey Fuller (16:44.78)

significantly or launching into a new vein of work, that might warrant that shift. But oftentimes it's the semiotics of it. It's like, what does this symbol represent?

And if the connotations are still positive, then I wouldn't necessarily go in and change the mark. But if you're saying kind of behind the scenes, we are a completely different company than we were five years ago, let's now create a new look that sort of represents that shift. But sometimes it's idealistic to think we're going to change our logo. And then all of a sudden, voila, new product, new us. But it's not really. So.

Katie (16:57.531)


Katie (17:03.149)


Katie (17:24.35)

Yeah. Well, and I think it's important, too, when we talk about rebranding for the firms that have been out there for a hot minute where their logo isn't keeping pace with them, sometimes just like in design, it's not a tear down. It's just a little bit of restoration. I mean, you've done that with our logo where because we have a heavy colored pinwheel. I mean, there was a time when lime green was fabulous and we had it in our logo. And then I was like, Corey, we have to talk.

Corey Fuller (17:36.45)



Corey Fuller (17:46.186)

Yes. Yeah.

Katie (17:50.254)

The lime green, I don't know. And you're like, you're right, Katie, I agree. And so we updated the colors, but we kept our core shape, which allowed our existing clients to track with us, which I think is really delicate and puts a lot of fear in existing business owners. It's like, if I rebrand, will they come with me? Like, I don't wanna lose the people I got.

Corey Fuller (17:51.55)


Corey Fuller (17:57.397)


Corey Fuller (18:09.194)

Yeah. Right. Yeah. So last time we talked about that balancing act of familiarity and innovation and I think that that's key. So what is that one element that you want to carry forward? You know, on the lime green thing, if you put something lime green in Shawnee, Oklahoma right now, it's a dispensary. I mean, that's what it is. So.

Katie (18:30.51)

So you're going to go there and get your edibles and you're going to feel better about your weekend. Maybe.

Corey Fuller (18:36.007)

But yeah, two years ago that would not have been the case. But there are a lot of logos that they just don't age very well.

Going back to Paul Rand, just real quickly, so he designed the UPS logo, which is the shield. It had the parcel at the top. Well, in the 2000s, early 2000s, when we were making everything look swooshy and shiny, they went in and they did that to the UPS logo. And all the designers lost their minds. They said, Paul Rand is rolling over in his grave. And now when they made that shift, 23 years later, we look at that logo and say, it looks like an early 2000s logo

Katie (18:48.426)

Do it.

Katie (18:59.107)


Katie (19:10.763)


Corey Fuller (19:15.396)

gradient and that shimmery quality and you wonder should they have just left it alone the entire time they may be due for another rebrand because of that shift you know like it was a tangent sort of.

Katie (19:21.467)

Wow, what a great perspective.

Katie (19:28.302)

That's a really good way to put it, a tangent. I love that term because I think it also gives us space as designers to sit for a minute and say, it might be okay to leave your logo. It doesn't always have to be new and shiny. And admittedly, as an industry, we are attracted to new and shiny things. We're like little birds who go after tin foil, right? And so to sit there for a minute and say, this could be okay, one, it's a huge cost savings for you, but you're not losing your audience. And in 10 years, when whatever you did will really...

Corey Fuller (19:46.346)


Katie (19:57.814)

It's more like three to five has its day in the sun. You don't have to go back and recreate it. Even Coca-Cola, I think, didn't they just do a throwback with their fonts to their more old timey font?

Corey Fuller (20:07.946)

Yeah, they've been using that Spencerian script a little bit more, kind of leaning into that. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And they'll like add in a color, like they added yellow in for a while, then they pulled it back, you know. So they kind of ebb and flow, but there's always a thread of consistency through what they do. And, you know, thinking about your logo, we changed the colors, but the form for the most part stayed pretty close to what it was, you know. So that was the thread of continuity moving forward. And you...

Katie (20:10.362)

Yeah. Yeah, like more of that timelessness.

Katie (20:20.671)


Katie (20:27.328)


Katie (20:31.094)

It did. It totally did.

Katie (20:35.702)

Well, and a big shout out to you too in the design, because I think the design of that and the shape needs to be able to flex as you do offer more services. Like we introduced our brand for all of our corporate social responsibility and all of our give backs, which was ColorWorks Cares. And so we could take that logo and spin it into a heart, showing the way that we're giving back to the communities that we're working in. And so even how.

This is where working with a professional is great because we didn't have the foresight to see all the incarnations we would need for this logo. And yet we have been able to, I don't want to say smush and stretch, but figuratively speaking, in a very meaningful way into all the different programs we've started offering, which is I wouldn't have come up with that. Like I remember sitting with you in the Starbucks when you first rolled out and I'm like, interesting. I'm like, I like it. Is it distinct enough? Is it what? And I was like, I think it's going to work.

And it wasn't like immediate love. I will be really honest, it wasn't immediate love. But it's, the thing is, is like, now I love it. I love it because it's so versatile. We've been able to do amazing things with it. And it was something where I didn't know what I didn't know. It was a very lovable logo because it does everything in Vinsum for us, which I could have never created.

Corey Fuller (21:33.395)

Yeah, okay. Yeah.

Katie (21:53.558)

when I was now or then, that isn't my world. And so a huge thank you and shout out to you for creating something that I didn't even know I was gonna need. And that is why you hire the professionals.

Corey Fuller (22:04.054)

Well, that's good to hear. Thank you. So people may look at their logo and say, there's something in here worth saving. Let's carry that forward. The NBC logo, for instance, when that logo came out, it was a peacock. And they were advertising color television. And they now keep that same mark, but they've been able to modernize it and keep it up with the times and even fragment it some interesting ways and use it in motion graphics. So it has been adaptable over time, but still on that thread of continuity.

Katie (22:17.912)


Katie (22:23.848)


Katie (22:34.122)

Yeah, great point. Let me ask you, how do we, I mean, let's play the butt Corey game. But Corey, how will I know if my brand is working? I feel like branding is something that we do, we know we should do it, it attracts the right target market and all of these things. But I'm like, I can't go to accounting and say, is my brand working? But I can't go to them and say, hey, what is my cashflow sheet? Like send me my P&L.

How do you know? I mean, like, how do we get metrics on branding? Or can we?

Corey Fuller (23:11.022)

I wish I had a great answer.

Katie (23:14.5)

Okay, good. Then I haven't been missing something. Okay, this makes me feel a little better.

Corey Fuller (23:18.222)

If I had a perfect answer, I'd be a millionaire. In all honesty, it is so hard to know. It's so hard to know. So when I was working in banking, we could run an ad with money market rates or something, and we could tell tangibly, like, oh, that was very effective. So we could run something in the newspaper, and if we had customers in our door the next Monday after running in the Sunday paper, we could tell branding is so much more

Katie (23:21.36)



Katie (23:32.259)


Katie (23:35.51)


Katie (23:42.466)




Corey Fuller (23:49.676)

You could do an exit interview with a client and say, I noticed you haven't been using us for a while. Is it the logo? And I can guarantee you they're probably not going to say that. If they're honest, they might say, well, you're bad at responding to emails. Or something like that. That was why. But yeah, trying to peel beneath the surface. But I think you could get a focus group together. And like,

Katie (23:57.262)


For sure not, yeah. I'll be like, I don't know, no.

Katie (24:08.45)


Katie (24:13.854)

I love focus groups. Yup.

Corey Fuller (24:15.926)

Before this interview, I was just searching up interior designers online just to kind of see what the logos looked like out there. The ones that caught my eye as I was looking through Google. And there are so many of the kind of flourishy script things right now. And it just seems to all kind of run together. So I was...

Katie (24:22.548)


Katie (24:26.903)


Katie (24:31.685)

Yes, with their names. Yes.

Corey Fuller (24:39.494)

not on board with that personally. Now there may be some people that gravitate towards that but I was looking for things that seemed distinct.

you know, as I was looking through those icons, you know, just a cursory search. But yeah, in all honesty, it's hard to know if it's working or not. You just want it to be a true representative of who you are. We used to use this company, oh, I won't say their name. They had a logo that looked like it was designed for like a death metal band, but they produced...

Katie (25:09.438)

Oh, wow. Nice, jagged edges. Yeah.

Corey Fuller (25:11.794)

Yes, yeah. They produce beautiful cabinets, custom cabinets and things. And yeah, but we kept using them because they were so great. And so even though that mark was bad, their product was so good. So you just kind of had to look past it. So, I mean, that's part of the equation, too. But hopefully there is a true alignment between excellence in your brand and excellence as a company.

Katie (25:16.536)


Katie (25:34.922)

I think that's a great example because you shouldn't be having to look past the brand. The brand should be driving you to the product. And so that's like that's such a great negative exemplar of what we don't want to have habit with branding. It shouldn't be a workaround. It should be a value add of driving people to your front door and getting them where that they are where you want them to be.

Corey Fuller (25:53.763)


Corey Fuller (25:58.154)

Yeah, because I mean a brand, it's like an icon in a lot of ways. It just points to something else outside of itself. And as designers, and the reason we're talking about this, we're consumed with the visual. But a lot of people aren't. I mean, they see that icon and just subconsciously at a precognitive level, they connect that to an experience, good or bad. It's just instantaneous.

Katie (26:02.975)



Katie (26:11.68)

Yeah, we are.

Katie (26:18.198)

Yeah. Well, and I think, too, it's interesting talking about the scripting that you saw when you did your Google search of all the names that are in the flourishing letters and whatnot and saying who is our target market? Is it mostly women making the decisions? Because women might be attracted to that, but men not necessarily. I also feel like the scripted letters and naming of yourself is very ubiquitous in our world. But it's also hard.

Corey Fuller (26:29.065)


Katie (26:47.562)

if you ever want to sell your business and you grow it into something amazing, like it's really hard to do that when it's your name, but you're not there and they pick up the phone and they're like, I want to talk to Katie and they're like, that's adorable. But Katie left 10 years ago and retired. Would that be nice? Like, right. Like we even ran into that recently on a, um, framing shop. And it was, I would ask to speak to the owner.

Corey Fuller (26:54.666)

Right. Yeah.

Corey Fuller (27:04.318)

Yeah, yeah.

Katie (27:14.758)

And I was like, well, is Andy there? And they're like, well, Andy founded the company like 50 years ago. The current owner is such and such, but everybody knew it. And that's what's hard is once it's ingrained in everybody's head, how do you back out of that then too? I mean, that requires some, that's why you hire a professional. So you have the foresight so you don't end up in a pickle.

Corey Fuller (27:23.938)


Mm-hmm. Right. Yeah.

Corey Fuller (27:36.318)

Yeah, yeah, and sometimes you don't change the name. You just kind of reinvent, so yeah.

Katie (27:41.41)

They didn't. Yeah, I mean, I don't know if Andy's in the land of the living. I don't know, but the Frameshop's still using his name and running a great business, doing awesome things. They're an awesome business, even though Eric owns it, right? And he's great to work with. It's pretty funny. Talk to me about auditing your brand, because short of asking a client, yeah, is this tired? Did you stop coming to us because of our brand, which they're never going to say, right?

Corey Fuller (27:46.274)


Corey Fuller (27:51.73)

Yeah. Eric, yeah. Yeah.

Corey Fuller (28:10.954)


Katie (28:11.362)

How do we know beyond just a gut instinct or looking at the market? Are there like, these are the steps you should do to conduct almost like a brand autopsy before it's deceased, but like an audit.

Corey Fuller (28:23.723)


Yeah, so I would say you would almost need kind of a third party to come along and do that for you. So like, you know, I couldn't take my own brand and set it alongside, you know, five other brands in Oklahoma City and go to someone and say, which one do you like? Because they're going to know all those brands and they're going to know me. And then you have researcher bias. So, you know, doing your own little audit is going to be just there's potential for all kinds of bias to be in that. So, you know, if you could take.

Katie (28:33.933)


Katie (28:43.529)


Corey Fuller (28:54.878)

your brand, compare it and contrast it with some other brands in a similar but different market. I think that could be an effective way of letting...

Katie (29:02.762)

Okay. Yeah.

Corey Fuller (29:07.91)

you know, letting people with some honest feedback that could then circle back to you and you know, eight out of ten people said they would never pick this business and it evoked these kinds of moods or thoughts, you know, it looks like something from the 1980s or it looks like something from the mid-2000s or it looks like, you know, Okay

Katie (29:21.845)


Which was yesterday, I swear, Corey. Mid 2000s, that was yesterday, just yesterday. Are there companies, just yesterday, are there companies that do this? Or how do you go about assembling that? Do you go to a university and put it before a bunch of students, but arguably they're not your target market? Like, how do we do that as designers logistically?

Corey Fuller (29:31.271)

He watched this yesterday.

Corey Fuller (29:52.086)

Yeah, so.

I think what you're trying to do with research is the best you can do is just really get a representative sample. So you have to be really careful about the way you ask the question, where you ask the question, to whom you ask the question, and then you can say, we truly have a representative sample of this group. I can pull my students here at OBU, but I can't say that's a representative sample of college students because we're in Oklahoma and it's a Christian liberal arts university and they're

Katie (29:59.644)

Well said.

Katie (30:06.03)


Katie (30:18.816)


Katie (30:22.744)


Corey Fuller (30:23.28)

perspective than students maybe on the coast. So it depends on who you're trying to reach and then trying to get a large swath that would be truly representative of who you're trying to target. And I think letting an ad agency do that or a creative firm, it's sometimes even hiring – I mean as much as I'd like to support local, going outside your state boundaries can be helpful in that too.

Katie (30:26.21)


Katie (30:37.294)


Katie (30:46.432)


Katie (30:50.686)

Yeah, just having a different perspective. I love what you said, find a market that is similar, but not yours. So if you're in the Midwest, find another market in the Midwest where the culture is similar, the community is a similar size, it's just the community you're working in or the metro you're working in and let them give you a representative sample and take it for a test drive. And not to cause our new designers starting their firms to melt down. I mean, that's why it's so important too, like to have that general, but not generic. I just love that saying.

Corey Fuller (30:56.8)


Corey Fuller (31:09.436)


Katie (31:20.57)

logo and brand identity starting out. And then you can get into this and you can tweak it and you can grow it. And then you can do the focus groups and say, does this still fit what I'm going for?

Corey Fuller (31:30.086)

Mm-hmm. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Katie (31:32.61)

Brilliant. What are we missing in this conversation that is important, whether you're starting out or whether you're continuing on in developing your business? What do you feel like gets missed most when it comes to brand identity?

Corey Fuller (31:48.494)

Yeah, so I mean, I could answer this in a personal way. I think we can all say we feel busy enough and we feel like we have enough work. Why would we fix it if it's not broken? Sometimes we are aware that this is a problem, but I think generally we feel like we're doing okay, and there's a weird fear that if we improve our brand, what if that does attract more people and then we can't, we can't like.

Katie (31:52.278)


Katie (32:01.764)


Katie (32:08.286)


Katie (32:15.982)

Fair service all of them. Yes.

Corey Fuller (32:16.042)

cover that, you know? Yeah, so we're like, in a weird way, like afraid of our own success or something. So I think what would sort of swage that fear is if we could say, what if we improved our brand and we became more autonomous in that we can dictate our own future? We can be more selective in the kind of clients we want to work with through better branding. And it's not just whatever happens to come our way.

Katie (32:22.52)


Katie (32:36.397)



Katie (32:43.578)

That is the nugget. This is why we brand so that you do have enough people coming and knocking on your door. The ones that don't fit. You can send packing and feel, I don't want to say no remorse about it because that sounds callous, but you don't have to feel bad because there's only so many hours in the day and then you can run your business how you want with the people you want, doing what you want, making enough money doing what you want. I mean that's why we do what we do.

Corey Fuller (32:56.95)


Corey Fuller (33:10.09)

Yeah, yeah, that's right.

Katie (33:12.702)

Awesome. Great conversation, Corey. Thank you so much for your time and for your insights. It means the world.

Corey Fuller (33:15.266)

Thank you again, Katie. It's always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

Katie (33:20.398)

Thank you.

branding for interior designers creating a design business series
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