Branding has become big business among interior design professionals as they strive to get heard above the noise and stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

There are nearly as many interior design "brands" out there as there are interior designers, but the most effective of these — the ones that create the most buzz and attract the most business — have one word in common: "Only."

Nothing differentiates your design firm more dramatically and spells out your specialness more effectively than that word. "Only" is your million-dollar branding word, the one that can put you in a class by yourself and distinguish you as a leader in your field.

It’s powerful marketing, indeed, to point out that you are the area’s only professional with degrees in both interior design and architecture. Or the region’s only firm with 25 years’ experience designing the interiors of luxury residences. Or the owner of the state’s only showroom that carries a certain brand of motorized shades.

Is yours the area’s only design firm that specifies a certain product line? The only one that offers a particular service? The only one that has a certain client niche? Tell them what only you do, and they’ll work only with you.

Determining your "Only" brand is no easy task, but using one or more of the phrases below could make that task easier:

"Our interior design firm is the only one in this area which….

  • specializes in ____
  • offers _____ (products/services)
  • is able to/capable of _____
  • has technology that ______
  • helps clients ______
  • works with clients who _____
  • is based/located/has branches in _____
  • has a team/staff which _____
  • has been in business for _____ years
  • is affiliated/aligned with _____
  • has won awards for _____
  • has been recognized for _____
  • is known for _____
  • has been promoted in _____
  • guarantees that _____
  • is licensed/certified to _____

Once you’ve zeroed in on your "Only" brand, it won’t do you much good if you don’t promote it. For maximum marketing impact, you should incorporate your only phrase in your social media and on your website. And an "Only" statement can transform an ordinary elevator speech into an extraordinary one.

But how do you know that your "Only" branding statement is valid? How can you be sure, for example, that yours is "the only local design firm that offers exterior as well as interior design?"

Here’s where you need to do some digging to carefully scrutinize the websites, social media sites, marketing materials, and other information relating to your competitors. If, after all of that research, you feel that your "Only" statement holds up, by all means use it in all of your marketing channels.

Chances are that nobody will dispute it, but if someone does be prepared tweak it a bit. Alter it, if necessary, to read something like: "the only Cambridge-based design firm that offers exterior as well as interior design."

It may take a while to come up with your new "Only" brand but consider it time well spent. After all, the end result is that you’ll have a slogan that will make an instant impact — and will make you and your design firm memorable.