Branding is an obtuse, overused, and too often misused term. Corbet has set forth some great thoughts above. Here's my direct take on your question...
You don't determine your brand, your customers do. They own it – in their hearts and minds. Your brand is what they say it is.
Their perception of your brand is based on the experiences they have interacting with your business across every touchpoint. Design engineers, and enriches that consumer experience.
Design shapes the relationship between your brand and your customer by creating desire, influencing behavior, and forming lasting emotional bonds. That’s how design adds value, not just visual – and engenders loyalty that commands a premium for your brand, and ultimately enhances your bottom line.
Your products and services matter... when consumers decide they matter. If you don't connect with consumers emotionally, you're roadkill. Innovative design, grounded in smart strategic thinking, will give you an unfair advantage over your competition by communicating the authentic relevance your brand has in peoples lives. When consumers decide you are relevant in their lives, the world is yours to lose.
That's essentially the message we're putting into the text of our web site redesign :)
Ken Peters | Nocturnal Graphic Design Studio